Geohydrology of the Valley-Fill Aquifer in the Nanticoke Creek Valley near Endicott, New York

Science Center Objects

Problem The Village of Endicott relies on wells that supply ground water from sand and gravel aquifers within the Susquehanna River valley. Localized contamination in the Village of Endicott and elsewhere in the Susquehanna River Valley has been documented by U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) from a number of c...

Problem

The Village of Endicott relies on wells that supply ground water from sand and gravel aquifers within the Susquehanna River valley. Localized contamination in the Village of Endicott and elsewhere in the Susquehanna River Valley has been documented by U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) from a number of commercial and industrial sites. Currently, the Village of Endicott treats its water prior to distribution and can purchase water from other nearby municipal sources as needed. The village would like to find an additional source of clean water to supplement

The most viable clean source is likely to be in sand-and-gravel-filled valleys that are tributary to the Susquehanna River valley near the village of Endicott. In addition to the need for a potable public supply, the village of Endicott is anticipating increased demand from the pending development of the Marcellus Shale for natural gas extraction and the attendant large volumes of water that are needed to hydraulically fracture the shale for development. Attendant with the potential need for additional water supply from shale-gas development in the valley, baseline water-quality information of the aquifer may be critical to assess any potential changes from natural-gas drilling in the area.

The closest tributary valley with no documented contamination is the Nanticoke Creek valley, north of the village of Endicott (fig. 1), but little is known about the (1) location of recharge and discharge areas, (2) direction of ground-water flow, (3) extent of hydraulic connection between aquifer units, and (4) extent of surface- and ground-water interaction. Also, there is little information on the few wells currently known to be drilled into the valley, adding to the paucity of data from which to make a scientific assessment of the viability of using this potential aquifer as a water-supply source for the Village of Endicott.

Objective

The objective of the proposed study is to improve the understanding of the geohydrology of the sand-and-gravel aquifer in the Nanticoke valley. Specifically, the study will provide the following information: (1) extent and thickness of geohydrologic units, (2) hydraulic conditions in the aquifers whether the units are confined (artesian) or unconfined, (3) extent of groundwater/surface water interaction, (4) water levels in geohydrologic units and the direction of ground-water flow, and (5) general groundwater quality.

Benefits

The study will benefit Federal, State, and county governments and the village of Endicott and residents in the study area by (1) advancing knowledge of the regional geohydrologic framework of these types of valley-fill systems, (2) increasing the understanding of hydrologic processes in sand-and-gravel aquifer systems in the glaciated northeast, and (3) contributing data to national data bases that will be used to advance the understanding of regional and temporal variations in hydrologic systems. The information that will be provided through this study will enable the Village of Endicott to develop a more comprehensive approach to water-resources management. The data will provide the village, water-managers, businesses, and homeowners with water information needed to ensure that there will be (1) a safe drinking-water supply, (2) water available for economic and energy development, and (3) healthy aquatic environments. The study will build upon the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data collection efforts in the state and on the interpretation of the Nation’s water availability.

Approach

Geohydrologic data will be collected and maps will be compiled that depict the (1) aquifer boundaries and (2) generalized geohydrologic framework, recharge areas, potentiometric surface, and direction of ground-water flow in the aquifers. The report will describe general aquifer characteristics and groundwater and surface-water interactions.

Phase I - General Geohydrologic Assessment

Geohydrologic framework

1) Construct base map- Arc/Info topographic map coverage.

2) Inventory wells in the valley and enter data into the USGS national well database- Ground Water Site Inventory (GWSI). Groundwater use from the aquifer will be estimated from inventorying municipal usage information, data from any production wells in the aquifer, and by estimating the groundwater use by homeowners that tap the aquifer).

3) Conduct several passive seismic surveys to determine the thickness of the valley-fill deposits and the configuration of the bedrock floor that underlies the valley where well and drilling information is scant.

4) Install wells, depending on available funds from the Village of Endicott, in areas of the aquifer where there is no existing data. Pairs of nested piezometers (a well in the upper unconfined system and a well in the lower confined system) may be needed if it is determined by drilling that there are more than one aquifer units in the valley.  The drilling data will be used to (a) gather subsurface data where there is little or no data, (b) serve as control points (ground-truthing) for interpret­ing passive seismic data, and (c) collect water-level and water-quality data. Split-spoon samples will be collected about every 20 ft. The depth to which the well will be drilled is estimated to be at least 170 ft deep. Drilling costs will be paid separately by the Village of Endicott. USGS will help the Village of Endicott in writing the drilling contract, drilling oversight, and sample collection.

5) Construct geohydrologic sections showing the glacial stratigraphy of the deposits and aquifer boundaries.

6) Compile a surficial geology map and modify it based on subsurface data collected during this study.

Potentiometric surface and direction of ground-water flow

7) Conduct synoptic groundwater-level measurements in wells in the valley-fill aquifer. The data will be used to help guide construction of generalized potentiometric­surface maps of geohydrologic units that compose the aquifer system in the valley. The generalized direction of ground-water flow will also be indicated on the maps

8) Install water-level recorders in wells finished at various depths and geohydrologic units in the area surrounding the Village of Endicott. Water levels in these wells will be monitored to determine whether they are affected by pumping in any nearby municipal wells and therefore will indicate the hydraulic connection (if any) between the various geohydrologic units. The results may also help indicate where local recharge areas are located.

Groundwater/surface-water interaction

9) Conduct stream gain/loss measurements in Nanticoke Creek and its major tributaries to determine reaches where the ground-water system either discharges into the stream or is recharged by water seeping from the stream into the aquifer.

Water quality

10) Collect and compile available chemical data from municipal and non-municipal community wells.

11) Collect four ground-water samples to determine groundwater quality in the aquifers. Water samples will be analyzed for pH, specific conductance, alkalinity, common ions, and nutrients, selected VOCs, and common, agriculturally-related pesticides along with inorganic constituents specific to interpretation of baseline quality that may be affected by gas drilling in the area.

12) Sample three surface-water sites, at least two from tributary streams and one from Nanticoke Creek. Water samples will be analyzed for pH, specific conductance, alkalinity, common ions, and nutrients.

Samples will be analyzed by the USGS laboratory, Denver, Colorado. These samples will be collected during base-flow conditions and will represent the general chemical characteristics of the ground-water contribution to streamflow. Samples will be collected once from the tributaries and twice in Nanticoke Creek during base-flow conditions.

Related Publications

Kreitinger, E.A., and Kappel, W.M., 2014, Hydrogeology and water quality of the Nanticoke Creek stratified-drift aquifer, near Endicott, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5063, 19 p. plus appendixes, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145063 

Randall, A.D., and Kappel, W.M., 2015, Hydrogeology of the Susquehanna River valley-fill aquifer system in the Endicott-Vestal area of southwestern Broome County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5078, 28 p. plus appendixes, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155078.

Project
Location by County

Broome County, NY