Ground-water quality in Quaternary deposits of the central High Plains aquifer, south-central Kansas, 1999

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4259
By: , and 



Water samples from 20 randomly selected domestic water-supply wells completed in the Quaternary deposits of south-central Kansas were collected as part of the High Plains Regional Ground-Water Study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment Program. The samples were analyzed for about 170 water-quality constituents that included physical properties, dissolved solids and major ions, nutrients and dissolved organic carbon, trace elements, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and radon. The purpose of this study was to provide a broad overview of ground-water quality in a major geologic subunit of the High Plains aquifer. Water from five wells (25 percent) exceeded the 500-milligrams-per-liter of dissolved solids Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water. The Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels of 250 milligrams per liter for chloride and sulfate were exceeded in water from one well each. The source of these dissolved solids was probably natural processes. Concentrations of most nutrients in water from the sampled wells were small, with the exception of nitrate. Water from 15 percent of the sampled wells had concentrations of nitrate greater than the 10-milligram-per-liter Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water. Water from 80 percent of the sampled wells showed nitrate enrichment (concentrations greater than 2.0 milligrams per liter), which is more than what might be expected for natural background concentrations. This enrichment may be the result of synthetic fertilizer applications, the addition of soil amendment (manure) on cropland, or livestock production. Most trace elements in water from the sampled wells were detected only in small concentrations, and few exceeded respective water-quality standards. Only arsenic was detected in one well sample at a concentration (240 micrograms per liter) that exceeded its proposed Maximum Contaminant Level (5.0 micrograms per liter). Additionally, one concentration of iron and two concentrations of manganese were larger than the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels of 300 and 50 micrograms per liter, respectively. Some occurrences of trace elements may have originated from human-related sources; however, the generally small concentrations that were measured probably reflect mostly natural sources for these constituents. A total of 47 pesticide compounds from several classes of herbicides and insecticides that included triazine, organophosphorus, organochlorine, and carbamate compounds and three pesticide degradation products were analyzed in ground-water samples during this study. Water from 50 percent of the wells sampled had detectable concentrations of one or more of these 47 compounds. The herbicide atrazine and its degradation product deethylatrazine were detected most frequently (in water from eight and nine wells, respectively); other pesticides detected were the insecticides carbofuran (in water from one well) and diazinon (in water from one well), and the herbicide metolachlor (in water from two wells). However, all concentrations of these compounds were small and substantially less than established Maximum Contaminant Levels. The use of pesticides in crop production probably is largely responsible for the occurrence of pesticides in the ground-water samples collected during this study. Although concentrations of detected pesticides were small (relative to established Maximum Contaminant Levels), the synergistic effect of these concentrations and long-term exposure to multiple pesticides on human health are unknown. Water samples from the Quaternary deposits were analyzed for 85 volatile organic compounds. Water from two wells (10 percent) had a detectable concentration of a volatile organic compound. Chloroform was detected at concen-trations of 0.18 and 0.25 microgram per liter, substantially less than the 100-microgram-per-liter Maximum Contaminant Level for total trihalomethanes. In general, the occurrence and detectio

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ground-water quality in Quaternary deposits of the central High Plains aquifer, south-central Kansas, 1999
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2000-4259
DOI 10.3133/wri004259
Edition -
Year Published 2001
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,
Description vi, 44 p. :ill. (some col.), col. maps ;28 cm.