Availability and quality of water from the alluvial, glacial-drift, and Dakota aquifers and water use in southwest Iowa

Water-Resources Investigations Report 91-4156

Prepared in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau
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A ground-water resources investigation was conducted in southwest Iowa to describe the availability, quality, and use of water from the alluvial, glacial-drift, and Dakota aquifers in a nine-county area. Historical water quality was examined for each aquifer, and water samples were collected for major ions, trace metals, radionuclides, and selected pesticides. Selected aspects of surface-water resources in the study area also were examined to more fully evaluate alluvial aquifers. The flood plain of the Missouri River valley was not included except for the accounting of the water use in the area.

Four principal alluvial aquifers consisting of sand and gravel deposits in the valleys of the Nishnabotna, Tarkio, Nodaway, and One Hundred and Two Rivers are present. Yields to wells have been reported as large as 2,000 gallons per minute; however, most yields are less than 100 gallons per minute. Nitrate concentrations greater than the drinking-water regulation and agricultural herbicides have been detected in 6 of 27 samples from municipal water supplies.

Four types of glacial-drift aquifers are present-loess, inter-till sand and gravel, basal sand and gravel, and buried-channel aquifers. The glacial-drift aquifers are most commonly used by rural water users or users that do not have access to alluvial aquifers. These aquifers are discontinuous and unpredictable in location. Hydraulic and water-quality data generally are unavailable for these aquifers. Wells completed in loess commonly yield less than 10 gallons per minute, although there are reports of yields as large as 20 gallons per minute. Yields of 10 to 120 gallons per minute appear to be possible for inter-till and basal sand and gravel aquifers. Yields of more than 150 gallons per minute are possible from some buried-channel aquifers.

The Dakota aquifer is comprised of bedrock of Cretaceous age and is present as erosional remnants and outliers in several counties, mainly Cass and Montgomery. Yields of more than 150 gallons per minute to wells completed in the Dakota aquifer have been reported, although yields of 20 gallons per minute or less are more typical. The drinking-water regulation for nitrate has been exceeded in some samples from the Dakota aquifer.

The quantity of water withdrawn for municipal, rural-domestic, livestock, and other permitted water users was determined for each of the three principal aquifer types. The total water use within the study area was about 91.8 million gallons per day; 35.3 percent was from alluvial ground-water sources. Alluvial aquifers supplied most of the water from ground-water sources. The largest use of water is for permitted irrigation purposes, mostly from the Missouri River alluvial aquifer.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Availability and quality of water from the alluvial, glacial-drift, and Dakota aquifers and water use in southwest Iowa
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Iowa Water Science Center
vi, 187 p.: ill., maps; 28 cm.
United States
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