A reconnaissance of ground-water quality was conducted in the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District of eastern Nebraska. Sixty-one irrigation, municipal, domestic, and industrial wells completed in the principal aquifers--the unconfined Elkhorn, Missouri, and Platte River Valley alluvial aquifers, the upland area alluvial aquifers, and the Dakota aquifer--were selected for water-quality sampling during July, August, and September 1992. Analyses of water samples from the wells included determination of dissolved nitrate as nitrogen and triazine and acetanilide herbicides. Waterquality analyses of a subset of 42 water samples included dissolved solids, major ions, metals, trace elements, and radionuclides. Concentrations of dissolved nitrate as nitrogen in water samples from 2 of 13 wells completed in the upland area alluvial aquifers exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water of 10 milligrams per liter. Thirty-nine percent of the dissolved nitrate-as-nitrogen concentrations were less than the detection level of 0.05 milligram per liter. The largest median dissolved nitrate-as-nitrogen concentrations were in water from the upland area alluvial aquifers and the Dakota aquifer. Water from all principal aquifers, except the Dakota aquifer, had detectable concentrations of herbicides. Herbicides detected included alachlor (1 detection), atrazine (13 detections), cyanazine (5 detections), deisopropylatrazine (6 detections), deethylatrazine (9 detections), metolachlor (6 detections), metribuzin (1 detection), prometon (6 detections), and simazine (2 detections). Herbicide concentrations did not exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Levels for drinking water. In areas where the hydraulic gradient favors loss of surface water to ground water, the detection of herbicides in water from wells along the banks of the Platte River indicates that the river could act as a line source of herbicides. Water from the alluvial and bedrock aquifers generally was a calcium bicarbonate type and was hard. Two of nine water samples collected from the Dakota aquifer contained calcium sulfate type water. Results of analyses of 42 groundwater samples for major ions, metals, trace elements, and radionuclide constituents indicated that statistically at least one principal aquifer had significant differences in its water chemistry. In general, the water chemistry of the Dakota aquifer was similar to the water chemistry of the upland area alluvial aquifers in areas where there was a hydraulic connection. The water from the Dakota aquifer had large dissolved-solids, calcium, sulfate, chloride, iron, lithium, manganese, and strontium concentrations in areas where the aquifer is thought not to be in hydraulic connection with the Missouri River Valley and upland area alluvial aquifers. Ground-water quality in the Papio-MissouriRiver Natural Resources District is generally suitable for most uses. However, the numerous occurrences of herbicides in water of the Elkhorn and Platte River Valley alluvial aquifers, especially near the Platte River, are of concern because U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Levels could be exceeded. Concentrations in three of nine water samples collected from wells completed in the Dakota aquifer exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Levels or Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels for gross alpha activity, radon-222 activity, dissolved solids, sulfate, or iron. Also of concern are the exceedances of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency proposed Maximum Contaminant Level for radon-222 activity.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Reconnaissance of ground-water quality in the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, eastern Nebraska, July through September 1992
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],