The Onondaga Valley Ground-Water Study, central New York

Science Center Objects

Problem Onondaga Lake has been identified as one of the nation's most contaminated lakes as a result of discharges from industrial, sewage, and stormwater sources, and the lake received priority cleanup status under the National Water Resources Development Act of 1990. Although remediation of polluted surface-water discharges is planned, the migration of poor quality (saline) ground water into...

Problem

Onondaga Lake has been identified as one of the nation's most contaminated lakes as a result of discharges from industrial, sewage, and stormwater sources, and the lake received priority cleanup status under the National Water Resources Development Act of 1990. Although remediation of polluted surface-water discharges is planned, the migration of poor quality (saline) ground water into the lake also affects the quality of lake water and may impair the remediation plans. Anthropogenic contamination has been identified at several sites near the lakeshore, including the former Allied Signal soda ash production facility and a former petroleum storage facility. Saline discharges from the Allied Signal waste beds have affected the seasonal stratification of lake waters and are a primary concern to resource managers. Brine originating from halite beds exposed in the Tully Valley south of the lake also discharges through springs along the southern lakeshore. The relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic sources to the salinity of lake water are unknown, however. In addition to cooperating with the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District, the USGS is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Onondaga Lake Clean-Up Corporation, and the Onondaga Lake Partnership, which includes Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, to better understand the sources of contamination entering Onondaga Lake.

Objectives

First, characterize the regional aquifer system in glaciated valleys that drain to Onondaga Lake, primarily from the results of test-well drilling in the Onondaga Creek Valley; other valleys will be investigated using existing data. Second, estimate the ground-water budget of the aquifer system, and determine direction and rate of ground-water flow to Onondaga Lake and the sources of natural and anthropogenic salinity on the lake.

Benefits

The development of a ground-water-flow model will be used to simulate the ground-water system in the glacial aquifers discharging to Onondaga Lake. Results from the model will help qualify the conceptual model of the system and quantify the ground-water contribution to the lake, thereby aiding local, state, and federal agencies in the remediation of the lake. The model would also assist these agencies in the assessment of ground-water discharge to the larger tributaries that drain to the lake and assess the role of ground-water contamination in the surrounding watershed. The ground-water-flow model would also serve as a basis for the future development of a solute-transport model to assess and quantify chemical loading to the lake from the aquifer.

Related Products
 

Kappel, W.M., 2014, The hydrogeology of the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York—An overview of research, 1992–2012: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1076, 28 p., plus 3 appendixeshttp://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141076.

Hayhurst, Brett, and Kappel, W.M., 2013, Natural Heat Storage in a Brine-Filled Solar Pond in the Tully Valley of Central New York: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1266, 14 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1266/

Coon, W.F., 2011, Improvement in precipitation-runoff model simulations by recalibration with basin-specific data, and subsequent model applications, Onondaga Lake Basin, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5203, 37 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5203/

Coon, W.F., Hayhurst, B.A., Kappel, W.M., Eckhardt, D.A.V., and Szabo, C.O., 2009, Water-quality characterization of surface water in the Onondaga Lake basin, Onondaga County, New York, 2005–08: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5246, 67 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5246/

Coon, W.F. and Reddy, J.E., 2008, Hydrologic and water-quality characterization and modeling of the Onondaga Lake basin, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investiga­tions Report 2008-5013, 88 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5013/

Coon, W.F., 2008, Simulation of streamflow and selected water-quality constituents through a model of the Onondaga Lake basin, Onondaga County, NY--A guide to model application: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1188, 27 p., online only.    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1188/
 

Kappel, W.M. and Miller, T.S., 2003, Hydrogeology of the Tully Trough -- Southern Onondaga County and Northern Cortland County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4112, 16 p. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri034112

Kappel, W.M., Miller, T.S., and Hetcher, K.K., 2001, Hydrogeology of the Tully Lakes area in southern Onondaga and northern Cortland Counties, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4166, 16 p. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri014166

Kappel, W.M., 2014, The hydrogeology of the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York—An overview of research, 1992–2012: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1076, 28 p., plus 3 appendixeshttp://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141076.

Kappel, W.M, 2009, Remediation of mudboil discharges in the Tully Valley of Central New York: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1173, 8 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1173/

Hackett, W.R., Gleason, G.C., and Kappel, W.M., 2009, Land-surface subsidence and open bedrock fractures in the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1188, 16 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1188/

Tamulonis, K.L., and Kappel, W.M., 2009, Dendrogeomorphic assessment of the Rattlesnake Gulf landslide in the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5134, 14 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5134/

Tamulonis, K.L., Kappel, W.M., and Shaw, S.B., 2009, Causes and movement of landslides at Rainbow Creek and Rattlesnake Gulf in the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5114, 18 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5114/

Pair, D.L. and Kappel, W.M., 2002, Geomorphic studies of landslides in the Tully Valley, New York: Implications for public policy and planning: Geomorphology, v. 47, issues 2-4, 1 October 2002, p. 125-135, DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(02)00099-5, PII: S0169-555X(02)00099-5, Elsevier Science B.V. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70024209

Pair, D.L., Kappel, W.M., and Walker, M.S., 2000, History of landslides at the base of Bare Mountain, Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 0190-99, 6 p.https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs19099

McKenna, J.E., Chiotti, T.L., and Kappel, W.M., 1999, Ecological status of Onondaga Creek in Tully Valley, New York -- Summer 1998: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 141-99, 6 p.https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs14199

Kappel, W.M., 1998, Mudboils, land subsidence, and landslides in the Tully Valley of central New York, in Borchers, J. W., ed., 1998, Land subsidence case studies and current research: Proceedings of the Dr. Joseph F. Poland Symposium on Land Subsidence, Association of Engineering Geologists, Special Publication No. 8, p. 453-463.

Wieczorek, G.F., Negussey, Dawit, and Kappel, W.M., 1998, Landslide hazards in glacial lake clays-Tully Valley, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 013-98, 1 folded sheet.http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs01398

Kappel, W.M., 1997, Hydrogeologic features of the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York, in Rayne, T. W., Bailey, D. G., and Tewksbury, B. J., eds., Field trip guide for the 69th annual meeting of the New York State Geological Association, Sept. 26-28, 1997, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, p. 159-165.

Kappel, W.M., Sherwood, D.A., and Johnston, W.H., 1996, Hydrogeology of the Tully Valley and characterization of mudboil activity, Onondaga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4043,71p https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri964043

Kappel, W.M., 1995, Mudboils in the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York, in Prince, K.R., Galloway, D.L., and Leake, S.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey subsidence interest group conference, Edwards Air-Force Base, Antelope Valley, California, November 18-1, 1992 -- Abstracts and Summary: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 94-532, p. 7-11 http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr94532

Kappel, W.M. and Yanosky, T.M., 1995, Dendrochro­nologic record of 100 years of solution brine mining within the Tully Valley in Central New York [abs.]: Eastern Section of American Association of Petroleum Geologists and New York State Geological Associa­tion Joint Annual Meeting, October 13-17, 1995, Schenectady, NY, p. 38.

Jäger, Stephan, and Wieczorek, G.F., 1994, Landslide susceptibility in the Tully Valley area, Finger Lakes Region, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 94-0615, 1 plate.

Waller, R.M., 1977, Subsidence in New York related to ground-water discharge: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1050, p. 258 http://ny.water.usgs.gov/archived_files/pubs/abs/abs-75591.pdf

Project Location
by County

Onondaga County, NY