A newly completed municipal ground-water supply that produces from a sand and gravel aquifer in southern Franklin County, Ohio, may be susceptible to potential sources of pollution. Among these are spills of toxic substances that could enter recharge areas of the aquifer or be carried by surface drainage and subsequently enter the aquifer by induced infiltration. Ground water of degraded quality also is present in the vicinity of several landfills located upstream from the municipal supply.
Local dewatering by quarrying operations has created a ground-water divide which, at present, prevents direct movement of the degraded ground water to the municipal supply. In addition, the dewatering has held water levels at the largest landfills below the base of the landfill. Should the dewatering cease, concern would be raised regarding the rise of water levels at this landfills and transport of contaminants through the aquifer to the Scioto River and subsequently by the river to the well field.
From June 1984 through July 1986, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Columbus, Ohio, investigated the relations among the ground-water supply and potential sources of contamination by means of an observation-well network and a program of measuring water levels and sampling for water quality. Sample collections included those made to determine the baseline levels of organic chemicals and metals, as well as periodic sampling and analysis for common constituents to evaluate any changes taking place in the system. Finally, a steady-state, three-dimensional numerical model was used to determine ground-water flow directions and average ground-water velocities to asses potential effects of toxic-substance spills. The model also was used to simulate changes in the ground-water flow system that could result if part or all of the quarry dewatering ceased.
Few of the organic-chemical and metal constituents analyzed for were present at detectable levels. With respect to chemical analysis of water and soil materials reported in earlier studies, no new problem areas were discovered as a result of either the baseline or periodic samplings. Model simulations suggest that, under March 1986 conditions, a toxic-substance spill along the major highways in the northern two-thirds of the study area eventually could discharge into one of the two quarries being dewatered or into the Scioto River.
A toxic-substance spill in the southern one-third of the study area ultimately may discharge into the Scioto River, Big Walnut Creek, or possibly into the municipal ground-water supply. Model simulations also indicate that concentrated landfill leachate probably would not reach the municipal ground-water supply under current or well-field pumping conditions if dewatering ceased at either or both of the quarries.