The U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency began a study of the hydrogeology, flow system, and distribution of contaminants in the aquifers underlying Belvidere, Ill., and vicinity in 1992. As part of the study, the ancestral Troy Bedrock Valley, located about 1.5 miles west of Belvidere, was identified as an important part of the ground-water-flow system. In the deepest parts of the valley, the basal Glenwood confining unit may be absent; thick deposits of sand and gravel that infill part of the valley may directly overlie the sandstone St. Peter aquifer, a regionally important source of water for public supply. With few deep wells open to the St. Peter aquifer present in the valley to provide necessary geologic information, tritium and other water-chemistry data were collected from eight wells to possibly delineate areas where the confining unit may be absent; the data also provide baseline water-quality information for an area expecting changes in land use and increases in water withdrawal. Also as part of the study, particle-tracking analysis was done using an available flow model to (1) identify possible discharge locations of ground water and contaminants and (2) delineate areas contributing recharge to the Belvidere municipal wells.
This report presents and interprets water-chemistry data collected during December 2000 and presents results of particle-tracking analysis. Ground water in samples from two of four wells open to the St. Peter aquifer appears to have recharged after 1954, suggesting that the Glenwood confining unit may be absent near the wells. Other hydrogeologic and water-chemistry data, however, were inconclusive or contradictory. Concentrations of iron, manganese, and lead exceeded maximum contaminant levels in five or less samples, but materials associated with the water-distribution systems appear to contribute to the elevated concentrations above natural levels.
Particle-tracking analysis indicates that most ground-water flow beneath possible contaminant-source areas discharges from the glacial drift aquifer to the Kishwaukee River. Most of the source areas are in or near Belvidere and are within 1,500 feet of the river. The analysis also indicates the possibility that in parts of the study area, some ground water does not discharge to the river, but flows beneath the Kishwaukee River in the underlying carbonate Galena-Platteville aquifer. Ground water that discharges to the one municipal well open to the glacial drift aquifer is estimated to travel over 1 mile in less than 25 years. Simulated residence (travel) times of ground water from the base of the glacial drift aquifer to the six municipal wells open, in part, to the Galena-Platteville aquifer, are estimated at less than about 40 years. Because fractures in this aquifer are unaccounted for in the flow model, actual areas contributing recharge are likely larger and travel times faster than those simulated for most of the municipal wells. Tritium data indicate that, in general, travel times from the land surface to the deepest parts of the Galena-Platteville aquifer are less than 46 years. Methyl tertiary-butyl ether data indicate that travel times to the upper part of the aquifer may be less than 16 years. The water-quality-based estimates of travel time generally are consistent with the estimates from particle-tracking analysis.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Delineation of the Troy Bedrock Valley and particle-tracking analysis of ground-water flow underlying Belvidere, Illinois