Science Center Objects

The Louisville Water Company is using riverbank filtration wells to draw water from the Ohio River through the aquifer at their B.E. Payne Water Treatment Plant near Prospect, Kentucky. The northeast portion of the alluvium— a 6.4-mi reach running from Beargrass Creek upriver to Harrods Creek is an especially prolific water-bearing formation with the total groundwater storage in the area estimated at 7 billion gallons (Rorabaugh, 1956).

Water-level data for the alluvial aquifer at Louisville, Kentucky, have been collected by the USGS in cooperation with various local and State agencies since September 1943. Data are presently being collected in cooperation with the Louisville Water Company. Special attention is given to the northeast portion of the alluvial aquifer where the Louisville Water Company is beginning to use riverbank filtration wells to draw water from the Ohio River through the aquifer at their B.E. Payne Water Treatment Plant near Prospect, Kentucky.

Regional Network Sampling Schedule

  • 26 wells are measured quarterly (January, April, July, October)
  • 7 wells are equipped with continuously recording pressure transducers
  • measure water levels and water temperature, 30-minute intervals

Riverbank Filtration Sampling Schedule

  • 2 collector wells and their respective observation well
  • total of 8 wells
  • all equipped with recording transducers
  • measured in 30-minute intervals 
  • serviced on same quarterly schedule as regional wells

Data were collected in July 2011 and July 2013 to assess the conditions of the riverbed adjacent to the riverbank filtration system and to measure changes in the potentiometric surface beneath the river resulting from the groundwater withdrawals.  Data collection activities included a check for clogging and/or compaction of the riverbed sediments, the installation of temporary piezometers for measuring groundwater levels, and the measuring of infiltration rates with a seepage meter.  The riverbank filtration system began operations approximately 5 months prior to the July 2011 data collection exercise.  By July 2013, the system had been in near constant operation for over 30 months, though the flow rate varied throughout the time period due to system demands.

LWC wellhead protection map
Figure 4. Wellhead protection area

In September 2014, the LWC was awarded a grant from the Kentucky Division of Water’s Source Water Protection Assistance Program to complete a well inventory throughout the LWC’s wellhead protection areas (WHPA) and take steps to secure or close any wells that pose a danger to the groundwater resources of the area. As part of the cooperative program, the USGS is working with the Louisville Water Company to provide assistance with assessing the current condition of existing wells within the LWC’s wellhead protection areas as shown in figure 4. The USGS completed the inventory of wells in the WHPA 1 in 2014. Work continued during 2015 to inventory wells in the WHPA 2 and 3 delineations. The inventory has been completed for wells in WHPA 2A and 2B.

LWC wellhead sampling sites
Figure 5. Wellhead protection sampling sites

 Water samples will be collected from the 4 collector wells and 4 additional wells and piezometers (Henry Wallace Farm, Holland Farm, Juniper Beach domestic well, and Hays Kennedy piezometer) located throughout the riverbank filtration tunnel and collector well system’s wellhead protection areas (fig. 5). The wells will be sampled twice during the year – first in May (typically when groundwater levels are at their highest) and second in November (lower groundwater levels). Standard USGS field techniques and protocols for the collection of groundwater samples from wells will be followed. 


LWC proposed well locations
Figure 6. Locations of additional wellhead protection wells

Due in part to a lack of accessible existing wells in up-gradient positions, additional sampling sites were installed for the wellhead protection water-quality monitoring program. Three 2-in PVC monitoring wells were installed on LWC property up-gradient from the riverbank filtration collector well and tunnel system (fig. 6). Each borehole was advanced to the bedrock surface. Each well was constructed with two 10-ft screened intervals; one screen installed above the bedrock surface and a second screen positioned across the water table. The double screen well installation allows for monitoring contaminants that may travel on top of the water table and others that are denser than water. 





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