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Cr(VI) occurrence and geochemistry in water from public-supply wells in California

January 1, 2015

Hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), in 918 wells sampled throughout California between 2004 and 2012 by the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment-Priority Basin Project (GAMA-PBP) ranged from less than the study reporting limit of 1 microgram per liter (μg/L) to 32 μg/L. Statewide, Cr(VI) was reported in 31 percent of wells and equaled or exceeded the recently established (2014) California Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Cr(VI) of 10 μg/L in 4 percent of wells. Cr(VI) data collected for regulatory purposes overestimated Cr(VI) occurrence compared to spatially-distributed GAMA-PBP data. Ninety percent of chromium was present as Cr(VI), which was detected more frequently and at higher concentrations in alkaline (pH ≥ 8), oxic water; and more frequently in agricultural and urban land uses compared to native land uses. Chemical, isotopic (tritium and carbon-14), and noble-gas data show high Cr(VI) in water from wells in alluvial aquifers in the southern California deserts result from long groundwater-residence times and geochemical reactions such as silicate weathering that increase pH, while oxic conditions persist. High Cr(VI) in water from wells in alluvial aquifers along the west-side of the Central Valley results from high-chromium in source rock eroded to form those aquifers, and areal recharge processes (including irrigation return) that can mobilize chromium from the unsaturated zone. Cr(VI) co-occurred with oxyanions having similar chemistry, including vanadium, selenium, and uranium. Cr(VI) was positively correlated with nitrate, consistent with increased concentrations in areas of agricultural land use and mobilization of chromium from the unsaturated zone by irrigation return.

Publication Year 2015
Title Cr(VI) occurrence and geochemistry in water from public-supply wells in California
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2015.08.007
Authors John A. Izbicki, Michael Wright, Whitney A. Seymour, R. Blaine McCleskey, Miranda S. Fram, Kenneth Belitz, Bradley K. Esser
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Applied Geochemistry
Index ID 70176444
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center