Water-quality indicators of surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in the Ohio River alluvial aquifer of West Virginia
The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, studied surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in the Ohio River alluvial aquifer of West Virginia for the purpose of understanding the influence of surface water on groundwater chemistry. Public groundwater supplies obtained from these aquifers receive substantial recharge from surface-water sources and are highly susceptible to degradation from water-soluble contaminants. Water samples were collected from 4 sites in the Ohio River and 23 groundwater wells in the alluvial aquifer from June 2019 to January 2020. Surface-water influence was assessed through characterization of groundwater quality, determination of recharge sources, estimation of groundwater age, and estimation of the fraction of Ohio River water entering groundwater pumped by wells in the alluvial aquifers.
Hydrogeochemical processes controlling solute concentrations in the Ohio River alluvial aquifer were evaluated with multivariate statistical analysis and identified to be primarily controlled by redox processes, input from sources of salinity, and carbonate dissolution. Meteoric recharge from the Ohio River and precipitation on the alluvium are the main sources of water entering the aquifer. The age of groundwater in the system was determined to be primarily from a modern source. Groundwater samples from every well included in this study had detections for at least one geochemical indicator of surface-water influence, and every well was determined to be susceptible and vulnerable to contamination from surface sources.
Results from binary mixing models and inverse geochemical models showed that sulfate, silica, and bicarbonate concentrations predict the fraction of Ohio River water entering alluvial wells for preliminary determination of surface-water influence when compared to fractions predicted using a numerical groundwater-flow model. In the absence of extensive analytes and geochemical or groundwater modeling capabilities, preliminary assessment of the fraction of Ohio River water entering groundwater wells in the Ohio River alluvium can be estimated for most sites using a linear relation between the equivalent ratio of bicarbonate to sulfate and the fraction of water computed by the average of the three geochemical models presented in this report. This approximation of the fraction of Ohio River water, coupled with information on the hydrogeological framework and geochemical indicators of surface-water influence, may be sufficient for preliminary assessment of surface-water influence in the absence of more detailed site information or reaction-transport models.
|Water-quality indicators of surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in the Ohio River alluvial aquifer of West Virginia
|Mitchell A. McAdoo, Gregory T. Connock
|USGS Numbered Series
|Scientific Investigations Report
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center