Preliminary appraisal of the effects of land use on water quality in stratified-drift aquifers in Connecticut

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4005
By:  and 



The stratified-drift aquifers that underlie 7.9 sq mi of the Potatuck and 12.7 sq mi of the Pomperaug River valley, CT, consist primarily of sand and gravel deposits up to 150 ft thick. Average horizontal hydraulic conductivity of the stratified drift ranges from 20 to 170 ft/day, and groundwater flows through the aquifers at an average rate of 2 to 3 ft/day. Land use in the study areas is changing from primarily undeveloped or agricultural lands to expanding residential, commercial, and light-industrial uses. Water quality data for 1923-82, that include 127 partial chemical analyses of groundwater samples from 38 wells in the two aquifers, were augmented by sampling during 1985 from 21 new stainless-steel wells for selected major inorganic constituents, trace elements, and organic chemicals. Nonparametric statistical procedures were used to compare the water quality data from four land use areas, for the two sampling periods, and between the two aquifers. Human activities associated with agricultural, residential, and industrial/commercial land uses have affected the quality of water in the stratified-drift aquifers underlying these land use areas. Statistical comparisons of water quality data between land use areas show significant differences, with the apparent relations between land use and groundwater being: (1) Median concentrations of most groundwater constituents are smallest in undeveloped areas; (2) Groundwater in agricultural areas has the largest median sulfate and total ammonia plus organic nitrogen concentrations. Agricultural areas are also characterized by groundwater with significantly greater median specific conductance, noncarbonate hardness, carbon dioxide, and magnesium concentrations relative to undeveloped areas; (3) Median concentrations of most major inorganic constituents, excluding potassium, sulfate, and total ammonia plus organic nitrogen, are greater in groundwater in residential areas than in undeveloped and agricultural areas. (4) Groundwater in industrial/commercial areas has the greatest median specific conductance, pH, carbon dioxide, calcium, magnesium, chloride bicarbonate, dissolved solids, boron, and strontium concentrations. (Author 's abstract)

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Preliminary appraisal of the effects of land use on water quality in stratified-drift aquifers in Connecticut
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 87-4005
DOI 10.3133/wri874005
Edition -
Year Published 1988
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey,
Description v, 41 p. :ill., maps (some col.) ;28 cm.