Water samples from 30 randomly distributed monitoring wells in areas of recent residential and commercial development (1960-96), Wichita, Kansas, were collected in 2000 as part of the High Plains Regional Ground-Water Study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The samples were analyzed for about 170 water-quality constituents that included chlorofluorocarbons, physical properties, dissolved solids and major ions, nutrients and dissolved organic carbon, trace elements, pesticide compounds, and volatile organic compounds. The purpose of this report is to provide an assessment of water quality in recharge to shallow ground water underlying areas of recent residential and commercial development and to determine the relation of ground-water quality to overlying urban land use.
Analyses of water from the 30 monitoring wells for chlorofluorocarbons were used to estimate apparent dates of recharge. Water from 18 wells with nondegraded and uncontaminated chlorofluorocarbon concentrations had calculated apparent recharge dates that ranged from 1979 to 1990 with an average date of 1986.
Water from 14 monitoring wells (47 percent) exceeded the 500-milligrams-per-liter Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for dissolved solids in drinking water. The Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels of 250 milligrams per liter for chloride and sulfate were exceeded in water from one well. The source of the largest concentrations of dissolved solids and associated ions, such as chloride and sulfate, in shallow ground water in the study area probably is highly mineralized water moving out of the Arkansas River into the adjacent, unconsolidated deposits and mixing with the dominant calcium bicarbonate water in the deposits.
Concentrations of most nutrients in water from the sampled wells were small, with the exception of nitrate. Although water from the sampled wells did not have nitrate concentrations larger than the 10-milligram-per-liter Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water, water from 50 percent of the sampled wells showed nitrate enrichment (concentrations greater than 2.0 milligrams per liter).
Most trace elements in water from the sampled wells were detected only in small concentrations, and few exceeded respective water-quality standards. Twenty percent of iron concentrations, 40 percent of manganese concentrations, 3 percent of arsenic concentrations, and 13 percent of uranium concentrations exceeded respective Maximum Contaminant Levels or Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels.
A total of 47 pesticide compounds were analyzed in ground-water samples during this study. Water from 73 percent of the wells sampled had detectable concentrations of one or more of 8 of these 47 compounds. The herbicide atrazine or its degradation product deethylatrazine were detected most frequently (in water from 70 percent of the sampled wells). Metolachlor was detected in water from 10 percent of the wells, and simazine was detected in water from 30 percent of the wells sampled. Other pesticides detected included dieldrin, pendimethalin, prometon, and tebuthiuron (each in water from 3 percent of the wells). All concentrations of these compounds were less than established Maximum Contaminant Levels.
A total of 85 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were analyzed in ground-water samples during this study. Water from 43 percent of the wells had a detectable concentration of one or more VOCs. Chloroform was the most frequently detected VOC (23 percent of the wells sampled).Seven other VOCs were detected in water at frequencies of 13 percent or less in the wells sampled. Concentrations of VOCs were less than respective Maximum Contaminant Levels, except one sample with a concentration of 9.0 micrograms per liter for tetrachloroethylene (Maximum Contaminant Level of 5.0 micrograms per liter).
An analysis of hydraulic gradient, flow velocity