Most residents in Geauga County, Ohio, rely on ground water as their primary source of drinking water. With population growing at a steady rate, the possibility that human activity will affect ground-water quality becomes considerable. This report presents the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Geauga County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners, to provide a brief synopsis of work previously done within the county, to assess the present (1999) ground-water quality, and to determine any changes in ground-water quality between 1986 and 1999.
Previous studies of ground-water quality in the county have consistently reported that manganese and iron concentrations in ground water in Geauga County often exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL). Road salt and, less commonly, oil-field brines and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been found in ground water at isolated locations. Nitrate has not been detected above the USEPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 milligrams per liter as N; however, nitrate has been found in some locations at levels that may indicate the effects of fertilizer application or effluent from septic systems.
Between June 7 and July 1, 1999, USGS personnel collected a total of 31 water-quality samples from wells completed in glacial deposits, the Pottsville Formation, the Cuyahoga Group, and the Berea Sandstone. All samples were analyzed for VOCs, sulfide, dissolved organic carbon, major ions, trace elements, alkalinity, total coliforms, and Escherichia coli bacteria. Fourteen of the samples also were analyzed for tritium.
Water-quality data were used to determine (1) suitability of water for drinking, (2) age of ground water, (3) stratigraphic variation in water quality, (4) controls on water quality, and (5) temporal variation in water quality.
Water from 16 of the 31 samples exceeded the Geauga County General Health District?s standard of 0 colonies of total coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. Esthetically based SMCLs were exceeded in the indicated number of wells for pH (8), sulfate (1), dissolved solids (3), iron (19), and manganese (18). Hydrogen sulfide was detected at or above the detection limit of 0.01 milligram per liter in 17 of the 31 water samples.
A range of water types was found among and within the four principal stratigraphic units. The waters can be categorized in three groups based on predominant anion type: bicarbonate-type waters, chloride-type waters, and sulfate-type waters.
Chloride-to-bromide ratio analyses indicate that water from 8 of the 31 wells is in some way affected by human activity. Five other samples were in a chloride-to-bromide ratio range that could indicate possible effects of human activity.
Ground-water-quality data from the current study were compared to data collected in 1986. Statistical analyses of data from the 16 wells that were sampled in both years did not indicate any significant changes that could be attributed to human activity.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water quality in Geauga County, Ohio; review of previous studies, status in 1999, and comparison of 1986 and 1999 data