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Hydrogeologic settings and groundwater-flow simulations for regional investigations of the transport of anthropogenic and natural contaminants to public-supply wells—Investigations begun in 2004

November 29, 2011

A study of the Transport of Anthropogenic and Natural Contaminants to public-supply wells (TANC study) was begun in 2001 as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The study was designed to shed light on factors that affect the vulnerability of groundwater and, more specifically, water from public-supply wells to contamination to provide a context for the NAWQA Program's earlier finding of mixtures of contaminants at low concentrations in groundwater near the water table in urban areas across the Nation. The TANC study has included investigations at both the regional (tens to thousands of square kilometers) and local (generally less than 25 square kilometers) scales. At the regional scale, the approach to investigation involves refining conceptual models of groundwater flow in hydrologically distinct settings and then constructing or updating a groundwater-flow model with particle tracking for each setting to help quantify regional water budgets, public-supply well contributing areas (areas contributing recharge to wells and zones of contribution for wells), and traveltimes from recharge areas to selected wells. A great deal of information about each contributing area is captured from the model output, including values for 170 variables that describe physical and (or) geochemical characteristics of the contributing areas. The information is subsequently stored in a relational database. Retrospective water-quality data from monitoring, domestic, and many of the public-supply wells, as well as data from newly collected samples at selected public-supply wells, also are stored in the database and are used with the model output to help discern the more important factors affecting vulnerability in many, if not most, settings. The study began with investigations in seven regional areas, and it benefits from being conducted as part of the NAWQA Program, in which consistent methods are used so that meaningful comparisons can be made. The hydrogeologic settings and regional-scale groundwater-flow models from the initial seven regional areas are documented in Chapter A of this U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper. Also documented in Chapter A are the methods used to collect and compile the water-quality data, determine contributing areas of the public-supply wells, and characterize the oxidation-reduction (redox) conditions in each setting. A data dictionary for the database that was designed to enable joint storage and access to water-quality data and groundwater-flow model particle-tracking output is included as Appendix 1 of Chapter A. This chapter, Chapter B, documents modifications to the study methods and presents descriptions of two regional areas that were added to the TANC study in 2004.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Hydrogeologic settings and groundwater-flow simulations for regional investigations of the transport of anthropogenic and natural contaminants to public-supply wells—Investigations begun in 2004
DOI 10.3133/pp1737B
Authors Sandra M. Eberts
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1737
Index ID pp1737B
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Water Quality Assessment Program; Texas Water Science Center