Since the 1970's, hexavalent chromium has been detected in concentrations as great as 1.0 milligram per liter in wells at the Puchack well field operated by the Camden City Department of Utilities, Water Division (Water Department), forcing the Water Department to progressively remove five of its six wells from service between 1975 and 1988. The wells in the Puchack well field range in depth from 140 to 220 feet and are screened in the Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer. The Water Department has continued to pump Puchack Well 1 to maintain a hydraulic gradient toward the well field in an attempt to limit contaminant migration. In late 1997, concerns about treating the water withdrawn from Puchack Well 1 led water managers to consider temporarily discontinuing the pumping.
In the spring of 1998, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, began a preliminary assessment of the potential effects of temporarily removing Puchack Well 1 from service. Water levels in the Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer were measured during both pumping and nonpumping conditions to determine the direction and velocity of ground-water flow and the results were compared.
Data collected in late March and early April 1998 indicate the presence of a ground-water divide between the Puchack well field and the Morris and Delair well fields when Puchack Well 1 was being pumped. A similar divide also was present when the well was not being pumped. The position and persistence of this divide limits the probability that contaminants in the vicinity of the Puchack well field will reach the Delair and Morris well fields during either pumping condition. Another divide southeast of Puchack Well 1 while the well was being pumped was no longer evident when the pumping was stopped and water levels had recovered. Under non-pumping conditions, ground water between Puchack Well 1 and this divide could begin to migrate toward other large pumping centers to the southeast. The average linear ground-water velocity along an arbitrarily selected southeast-trending flow path was estimated to be from 221 to 332 feet per year. This estimate indicates that any contaminated ground water that may be present within the area influenced by pumping at Puchack Well 1 may begin to move toward the pumping centers less than 2 miles to the southeast if Puchack Well 1 is either temporarily or permanently removed from service.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of Pumping on Ground-Water Flow Near Water-Supply Wells in the Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy Aquifer, Pennsauken Township, Camden County, New Jersey