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Bacteriological quality of ground water used for household supply, Lower Susquehanna River basin, Pennsylvania and Maryland

January 1, 1996

This report describes the bacteriological results of a ground-water study conducted from 1993 to 1995 as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment Program in the Lower Susquehanna River Basin study unit. Water samples collected from 146 household supply wells were analyzed for fecal-indicator organisms including total coliform, fecal coliform, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and fecal streptococcus concentrations. Supporting data used in the interpretations are selected water-quality constituents, well-construction information, and the environmental setting at the well site including land use, physiography, and bedrock type. Water from nearly 70 percent of the wells sampled had total coliform present and thus was not suitable for drinking without treatment. Fecal coliforms were found in water from approximately 25 percent of the sampled wells. E. coli testing was not conducted in 1993. Approximately 30 percent of the 88 sampled wells had waters with E. coli. Fecal streptococcus bacteria was present in water from about 65 percent of the wells sampled. Bacteriological contamination was more likely to occur in water from wells in agricultural areas than in water from wells in forested areas. Water from wells sampled in the Ridge and Valley Physiographic Province was more likely to have bacteria than water from wells in the Piedmont Physiographic Province. Differences in bacterial concentrations among bedrock types are only statistically significant for E. coli. Bacterial concentrations are weakly related to well-age but not to other well characteristics such as the total well depth or the casing length. Relations exist between bacterial concentrations and selected water-quality constituents. Most wells from which water was sampled did not have sanitary seals and very few were grouted. This may have contributed to the number of detections of bacteria. It is uncertain whether the bacteria detected are the result of widespread aquifer contamination or site-specific factors.

Publication Year 1996
Title Bacteriological quality of ground water used for household supply, Lower Susquehanna River basin, Pennsylvania and Maryland
DOI 10.3133/wri964212
Authors Tammy M. Bickford, Bruce D. Lindsey, M.R. Beaver
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 96-4212
Index ID wri964212
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center