The protection of public health through quality public ground-water systems is the responsibility of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Missouri, through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Public Drinking Water Program. Approximately 95 percent of the public-water supplies in Missouri use ground water as their source of drinking water through more than 3,700 public wells. Karst terrain, intensive agricultural operations, extensive numbers of on-site sewage systems, and poor well construction can lead to chemical and microbiological contamination of the contributing aquifers. Sitespecific studies and routine regulatory monitoring have produced information on the overall quality and potability of the State's public-drinking-water supplies, but little is known about the presence of viruses.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, sampled 109 public-water supplies to characterize the physical, chemical, bacterial, and viral conditions in southern Missouri. During April to July 1998, these wells were sampled for nutrients, total organic carbon, optical brighteners, indicator bacteria, enteric viruses, and ribonucleic acid and somatic coli phages. These constituents indicate possible surface contamination of the sampled aquifer. Selection of the wells to be sampled depended on the age of the well (pre-1970), land use, geohydrology, and well construction.
None of the physical or chemical constituents measured or analyzed exceeded Missouri's Drinking Water Standards set by the Public Drinking Water Program of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The majority of ammonia plus organic nitrogen, nitrite, and phosphorus concentrations were below the laboratory's minimum reporting levels. There were a greater number of detects above the minimum reporting level with respect to the nitrite plus nitrate, ammonia, orthophosphate, and total organic carbon concentrations. Analyses included comparing and contrasting the data by grouping according to well age and construction, karst type, geohydrology, soil type, and land use. There was little variation in well construction between selected wells. The results indicated several groupings of similar and dissimilar concentrations, most expected because of hydrological, physical, or land use differences. Dissolved oxygen values indicated distinct variation in the different groupings. There were significant differences in dissolved oxygen values between the secondary and non-karst areas, the Ozark confined and Ozark unconfined geohydrologic groups, and between agricultural and other land uses. In groupings by soil and geohydrology, the Missouri bootheel region differed with respect to ammonia, total organic carbon, and phosphorus when compared with the other groups.
Less than 10 percent of the wells sampled tested positive for bacterial contamination. E. coli was the most frequently detected bacterium. The public wells at Monett and West Plains, Missouri, had plates with colonies too numerous to count for all three indicator bacteria. Further analyses by rRNA (ribosomal RiboNucleic Acid) hybridization techniques detennined that much of the bacteria present were from ruminant and human sources. No enteric viruses were detected in the 109 samples. Both ribonucleic acid and somatic coliphage were detected at two wells. One additional well had ribonucleic acid coliphage and another had somatic coliphage for a total of four wells with coliphage selects.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Microbiological and chemical quality of ground water used as a source of public supply in southern Missouri : Phase II, April-July, 1998
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;Branch of Information Services [distributor],