Anthropogenic organic compounds (AOCs) in drinking-water sources commonly are derived from municipal, agricultural, and industrial wastewater sources, and are a concern for water-supply managers. A cooperative study between the city of Sioux Falls, S. Dak., and the U.S. Geological Survey was initiated in 2009 to (1) characterize the occurrence of anthropogenic organic compounds in the source waters (groundwater and surface water) to water supplies in the Sioux Falls area, (2) determine if the compounds detected in the source waters also are present in the finished water, and (3) identify probable sources of nitrate in the Big Sioux River Basin and determine if sources change seasonally or under different hydrologic conditions. This report presents analytical results of water-quality samples collected from source waters and finished waters in the Sioux Falls area. The study approach included the collection of water samples from source and finished waters in the Sioux Falls area for the analyses of AOCs, nutrients, and nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in nitrate. Water-quality constituents monitored in this study were chosen to represent a variety of the contaminants known or suspected to occur within the Big Sioux River Basin, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, sterols, household and industrial products, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, antibiotics, and hormones. A total of 184 AOCs were monitored, of which 40 AOCs had relevant human-health benchmarks. During 11 sampling visits, 45 AOCs (24 percent) were detected in at least one sample of source or finished water, and 13 AOCs were detected in at least 20 percent of all samples. Concentrations of detected AOCs were all less than 1 microgram per liter, except for two AOCs in multiple samples from the Big Sioux River, and one AOC in finished-water samples. Concentrations of AOCs were less than 0.1 microgram per liter in more than 75 percent of the detections. Nutrient concentrations varied seasonally in source-water samples from surface water and groundwater. In the Big Sioux River, nitrite plus nitrate concentrations were typically less than 1 milligram per liter as nitrogen, and reached a maximum of 4.06 milligrams per liter as nitrogen following a June 2010 storm. Nitrite plus nitrate concentrations in groundwater ranged from less than 0.1 to 0.701 milligram per liter as nitrogen. Eight of the AOCs detected have a human-health benchmark that could be used to evaluate the concentrations in a human-health context. Four AOCs had maximum concentrations within an order of magnitude of the benchmark, indicating that additional monitoring of the compound may be warranted. Three herbicides (atrazine, metolachlor, and prometon) and one degradate (deethylatrazine) were detected in finished-water samples as frequently as in source-water samples. The concentrations of herbicides in source water varied by an order of magnitude from the period of peak use (early summer) to the winter months. Groundwater and finished-water concentrations of atrazine were similar for the six sampling dates when groundwater was the only source water used. Upstream wastewater discharges contributed a fairly small percentage of the flow to the Big Sioux River near Sioux Falls, but several AOCs associated with wastewater were frequently detected. The interpretation of all potential sources of nitrogen cannot be accomplished by use of nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in nitrate alone, but provides a qualitative indication that very little nitrate originates from excess fertilizer runoff, and most nitrate originates from municipal wastewater effluent, manure runoff (either from field application or feeding operations), or fertilizers mineralized by processes in the soil.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Occurrence of anthropogenic organic compounds and nutrients in source and finished water in the Sioux Falls area, South Dakota, 2009-10
Scientific Investigations Report
U.S Geological Survey
South Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center