Hydrogeology and water quality were evaluated near five land-fills along a 5-mile segment of the Scioto River valley south of Columbus, Ohio. Heterogenous surficial deposits o sand, gravel, and till up to 160 feet thick are hydraulically connected to the underlying Devonian limestone, the landfills and Scioto River, which has been leveed with 12 to 35 feet of refuse. Ground-water withdrawals caused a maximum 21-foot decline in ground-water levels from 1979 to 1982. The study reach of Scioto River within the influence of ground-water pumping is a losing stream, except for s small segment adjacent to one landfill.
Analysis of variance indicated significant difference in ground-water quality between wells upgradient of landfills, down-gradient of landfills, and wells penetrating refuse. Elevated specific conductance and concentrations of total dissolved solids, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and dissolved organic carbon in water from wells downgradient from and penetrating landfills indicate leachate production and migration is occurring.
Analysis of bed-material samples from Scioto River and Scioto Big Run revealed concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons ranging from 220 to 9,440 micograms per kilogram of sediment (?g/kg) and concentrations of toxic metals ranging from 1 to 720 ?g/kg. Samples from an upstream control station on Scioto River contained no organic compounds and lower concentrations of metals (ranging from 1 to 260 ?g/kg). Because of multiple land uses within the study area, organic compounds recovered from the streamed sediments cannot be attributed to any single source.
The generation of hydrogen sulfide and methane gases, presence of a zone of increased hardness, elevated concentrations of common ionic species, and dominance of ammonia over other nitrogen species indicate that leachate is being produced and its migrating from four landfills and the river levee. Based on hydraulic relationships between ground water and surface water, it is highly probable that ground water contaminated by leachate from the levee and from one of the landfills is discharging to Scioto River. Leachate-enriched groundwater from other landfills also may begin to discharge to the river if water-withdrawal patterns in the study area change.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrogeology and effects of landfills on ground-water quality, southern Franklin County, Ohio