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Hydrogeology and gain/loss assessment of two lakes contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, vicinity of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 2020–21

October 12, 2021

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been identified in two lakes near Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) in New Jersey—Little Pine Lake in Pemberton Township and Pine Lake in Manchester Township. The streams that enter these lakes begin in or near JBMDL where sources of PFAS contamination are located. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center, performed a study of the hydrogeology and the gaining or losing conditions associated with these lakes.

Hydrogeologic characteristics in the vicinity of both lakes were assessed using qualitative vertical hydraulic profiling of the subsurface. Groundwater was pumped from test intervals at various depths below land surface, then groundwater levels were measured until they recovered to static conditions. Low permeability aquifer intervals were identified within the aquifer underlying both lakes, consistent with silty and (or) clayey subunits of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system indicated on geophysical and lithologic logs.

Gaining or losing conditions between groundwater and lake surface water were assessed with continuous monitoring of water levels and temperature in the lakes and in three piezometers per lake screened at different depths in the underlying aquifer from August 2020 through May 2021. At Little Pine Lake, surface water levels were consistently lower than groundwater levels, which is indicative of a gaining condition with groundwater flowing into the lake. Gaining conditions also support the lack of diurnal temperature fluctuations observed in groundwater, but poor response of surface-water temperature prevents complete analysis. The potential for losing conditions at other locations around Little Pine Lake necessitates further assessment in regard to possible PFAS contamination of groundwater in the underlying aquifer. Temperature results were inconclusive at Pine Lake, but surface water levels were consistently higher than groundwater levels throughout the monitoring period, which indicates a losing condition with lake water flowing into the underlying aquifer. Because of the downward vertical hydraulic gradient identified at Pine Lake, there is a strong possibility that PFAS in the lake water has also contaminated groundwater in its vicinity.