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Time scales of arsenic variability and the role of high-frequency monitoring at three water-supply wells in New Hampshire, USA

December 14, 2019

Groundwater geochemistry, redox process classification, high-frequency physicochemical and hydrologic measurements, and climate data were analyzed to identify controls on arsenic (As) concentration changes. Groundwater was monitored in two public-supply wells (one glacial aquifer and one bedrock aquifer), and one bedrock-aquifer domestic well in New Hampshire, USA, from 2014 to 2018 to identify time scales of and controls on As concentration changes. Concentrations of As and other geochemical constituents were measured bimonthly. Specific conductance (SC), pH, dissolved oxygen, and pumping rate/water level were measured at high frequency (every 5 to 15 min). Median (and 95% confidence interval) As concentrations at the three wells were 4.1 (3.7–4.6), 18.9 (17.2–23.6), and 37.5 (30.4–42.9) μg/L. Arsenic variability in each of the three wells, in relative standard deviation, ranged from 9 to 12%. Median quarterly As concentrations were highest in all wells in the spring. The bedrock-aquifer public-supply well As concentration increased over the period of study while pumping rate decreased. In the public-supply wells, As variability was correlated with SC and pH, and As species were related to SC, pH, pumping, precipitation, and changes in redox process. Specific conductance also had a seasonal pattern in the two public-supply wells and was correlated with Na and Cl. Excess Na in water samples suggests possible ion exchange with dissolved Ca, creating more capacity to dissolve CaCO3 from calcareous rocks, which can increase pH and in turn, As concentrations in wells. High-frequency monitoring data are cost effective to collect, which could be advantageous in other parts of the United States and in the many parts of the world where glacial aquifers are in direct contact with other water supply aquifers or where water from different aquifers have potential to mix.

Publication Year 2020
Title Time scales of arsenic variability and the role of high-frequency monitoring at three water-supply wells in New Hampshire, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135946
Authors James R. Degnan, Joseph P. Levitt, Melinda Erickson, Bryant C. Jurgens, Bruce D. Lindsey, Joseph D. Ayotte
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70209440
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New England Water Science Center