Water samples collected from 30 privately-owned and small public-supply wells in the Appalachian Plateaus of the Kanawha River Basin were analyzed for a wide range of constituents, including bacteria, major ions, nutrients, trace elements, radon, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds. Concentrations of most constituents from samples analyzed did not exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards.
Constituents that exceeded drinking-water standards in at least one sample were total coliform bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), iron, manganese, and sulfate. Total coliform bacteria were present in samples from five sites, and E. coli were present at only one site. USEPA secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs) were exceeded for three constituents -- sulfate exceeded the SMCL of 250 mg/L (milligrams per liter) in samples from 2 of 30 wells; iron exceeded the SMCL of 300 ?g/L (micrograms per liter) in samples from 12 of the wells, and manganese exceeded the SMCL of 50 ?g/L in samples from 17 of the wells sampled.
None of the samples contained concentrations of nutrients that exceeded the USEPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for these constituents. The maximum concentration of nitrate detected was only 4.1 mg/L, which is below the MCL of 10 mg/L. Concentrations of nitrate in precipitation and shallow ground water are similar, potentially indicating that precipitation may be a source of nitrate in shallow ground water in the study area.
Radon concentrations exceeded the recently proposed maximum contaminant level of 300 pCi/L at 50 percent of the sites sampled. The median concentration of radon was only 290 pCi/L. Radon-222 is a naturally occurring, carcinogenic, radioactive decay product of uranium. Concentrations, however, did not exceed the alternate maximum contaminant level (AMCL) for radon of 4,000 pCi/L in any of the 30 samples.
Arsenic concentrations exceeded the proposed MCL of 5?g/L at 4 of the 30 sites. No samples exceeded the current MCL of 50 ?g/L.
Neither pesticides nor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were prevalent in the study area, and the concentrations of the compounds that were detected did not exceed any USEPA MCLs. Pesticides were detected in only two of the 30 wells sampled, but four pesticides -- atrazine, carbofuran, DCPA, and deethylatrazine -- were detected in one well; molinate was detected in the other well. All of the pesticides detected were at estimated concentrations of only 0.002 ?g/L. Of the VOCs detected, trihalomethane compounds (THMs), which can result from chlorination of a well, were the most common. THMs were detected in 13 of the 30 wells sampled. Gasoline by-products, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX compounds) were detected in 10 of the 30 wells sampled. The maximum concentration of any of the VOCs detected in this study, however, was only 1.040 ?g/L, for the THM dichlorofluoromethane.
Water samples from 25 of the wells were analyzed for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to estimate the apparent age of ground water. The analyses indicated that age of water ranged from 10 to greater than 57 years, and that the age of ground water could be correlated with the topographic setting of the wells sampled. Thus the apparent age of water in wells on hilltops was youngest (median of 13 years) and that of water in wells in valleys was oldest (median of 42 years). Water from wells on hillsides was intermediate in age (median of 29 years). These data can be used to define contributing areas to wells, corroborate or revise conceptual ground-water flow models, estimate contaminant travel times from spills to other sources such as nearby domestic or public supply wells, and to manage point and nonpoint source activities that may affect critical aquifers.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water quality in the Appalachian Plateaus, Kanawha River basin, West Virginia
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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