In 1995, ground water was the source of drinking water to about 52 percent of the population served by public drinking water systems in the Great Salt Lake Basins study unit, which includes parts of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Existing nitrate and volatile organic compound data for ground water collected in the study unit were compiled and summarized as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program?s objective to describe water-quality conditions in the Nation?s aquifers. Prerequisites for the inclusion of nitrate and volatile organic compound data into this retrospective analysis are that the data set is available in electronic form, the data were collected during 1980-98, the data set is somewhat regional in coverage, and the locations of the sampled sites are known. Ground-water data stored in the U.S. Geological Survey?s National Water Information Systemand the Idaho and Utah Public DrinkingWater Systems databases were reviewed. Only the most recent analysis was included in the data sets if more than one analysis was available for a site. The National Water Information System data set contained nitrate analyses for water from 480 wells. The median concentration of nitratewas 1.30 milligrams per liter for the 388 values above minimum reporting limits. The maximum contaminant level for nitrate as established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was exceeded in water from 10 of the 200 wells less than or equal to 150 feet deep and in water from3 of 280 wells greater than 150 feet deep. The Public Drinking Water Systems data set contained nitrate analyses for water from 587 wells. The median concentration of nitrate was 1.12 milligrams per liter for the 548 values above minimum reporting limits. The maximum contaminant level for nitrate was exceeded at 1 site and 22 sites had concentrations equal to or greater than 5 milligrams per liter. The types of land use surrounding a well and the well depth were related to measured nitrate concentrations in the sampled ground water. Overall, water sampled from wells in rangeland areas had a lowermedianmeasured nitrate concentration (0.76 milligrams per liter) than water from areas with an agricultural or urban/residential land use (1.41 and 1.20 milligrams per liter, respectively). In the NationalWater Information System data set, the median measured nitrate concentration in water from urban/residential areas varied from 1.00 milligrams per liter for wells greater than 150 feet deep to 1.84 milligrams per liter for wells less than or equal to 150 feet deep. The Public DrinkingWater Systems and the National Water Information System data sets contained analyses for most of the State and Federally regulated volatile organic compounds in water from about 368 and 74 wells, respectively. Fifteen different volatile organic compounds were detected at least once in ground water sampled from the Great Salt Lake Basins study unit. Water from 21 wells contained at least 1 volatile organiccompound at detectable concentrations. About 68 percent of the volatile organic compounds detected were in water sampled from wells in Salt Lake County, Utah. Tetrachloroethylene was the most commonly detected volatile organic compound in ground water sampled from the study unit, present in 8 out of 442 samples. Maximum contaminant levels for tetrachloroethylene and 1,1-dichloroethylene as established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were exceeded in water from one well each.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Analysis of nitrate and volatile organic compound data for ground water in the Great Salt Lake Basins, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, 1980-98, National Water-Quality Assessment Program
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Branch of Information Services [distributor],