Ground Water and Surface Water A Single Resource--USGS Circular 1139
Effects of Atmospheric Deposition on the Quality of Ground Water and Surface Water
In areas where soils have little capacity to buffer acids in water, acidic precipitation can be a problem because the infiltrating acidic water can increase the solubility of metals, which results in the flushing of high concentrations of dissolved metals into surface water. Increased concentrations of naturally occurring metals such as aluminum may be toxic to aquatic organisms. Studies of watersheds have indicated that the length of subsurface flow paths has an effect on the degree to which acidic water is buffered by flow through the subsurface. For example, studies of watersheds in England have indicated that acidity was higher in streams during storms when more of the sub- surface flow moved through the soil rather than through the deeper flow paths (Figure S-1). Moreover, in a study of the effects of acid precipitation on lakes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, the length of time that water was in contact with deep subsurface materials was the most important factor affecting acidity because contact time determined the amount of buffering that could take place (Figure S-2).
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