Discharge and water-quality data collected in two adjacent karst-spring basins in Cumberland County, Pa., from May 1990 through April 1991 were used to (1) describe the hydrogeology of the area; (2) determine the concentrations of selected herbicides, herbicide-soil metabolites, and nutrients in water from wells and discharges from springs, (3) determine herbicide and nutrient discharges from springs; and (4) determine the relation of ground-water quality to land use and agricultural practices in the spring basins. The study area is underlain by a regolith-mantled carbonate-rock aquifer system. Agricultural land, forest, and residential land are the principal land uses. Herbicides are applied primarily to cornfields. Cyanazine, atrazine, metolachlor, and alachlor account for about 90 percent of the documented herbicide use on cropland. Daily mean discharge of Alexanders and Mount Rock Springs was 3.8 and 3.7 cubic feet per second, and total discharge was 1,390 and 1,370 cubic feet per second-days. Increases in discharge were related to individual periods of precipitation, but maximum flow rates lagged precipitation periods by 2 to 5 days. The recharge area to each spring is estimated to be 2.8 square miles. Atrazine was the only herbicide in common use that was detected in discharges from springs. Atrazine and the atrazine soil-metabolite deethylatrazine (DEA) were detected in spring discharges for the duration of the study. Changes in atrazine and DEA concentrations in the discharges from springs were minimal, and no flush of herbicides from the springs followed application. Temporal variation in constituent discharges was related mostly to changes in spring flow; the largest daily constituent discharges coincided with periods of increased spring flow during the winter and early spring. Atrazine and DEA discharged from Alexanders Spring and Mount Rock Spring were about 0.5 and 0.6 percent of the estimated annual atrazine use on row crops in their respective recharge areas.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrogeology, herbicides and nutrients in ground water and springs, and relation of water quality to land use and agricultural practices near Carlisle, Pennsylvania