Fact Sheet 2009–3076
The 258 organic compounds studied in this U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessment generally are man-made, including pesticides, solvents, gasoline hydrocarbons, personal-care and domestic-use products, and pavement and combustion-derived compounds. Of these 258 compounds, 26 (about 10 percent) were detected at least once among the 31 samples collected approximately monthly during 2003–05 at the intake of a flowthrough reservoir on Running Gutter Brook in Massachusetts, one of several community water systems on tributaries of the Connecticut River. About 81 percent of the watershed is forested, 14 percent is agricultural land, and 5 percent is urban land. In most source-water samples collected at Running Gutter Brook, fewer compounds were detected and their concentrations were low (less than 0.1 micrograms per liter) when compared with compounds detected at other stream sites across the country that drain watersheds that have a larger percentage of agricultural and urban areas. The relatively few compounds detected at low concentrations reflect the largely undeveloped land use at Running Gutter Brook. Despite the absence of wastewater discharge points on the stream, however, the compounds that were detected could indicate different sources and uses (point sources, precipitation, domestic, and agricultural) and different pathways to drinking-water supplies (overland runoff, groundwater discharge, leaking of treated water from distribution lines, and formation during treatment). Six of the 10 compounds detected most commonly (in at least 20 percent of the samples) in source water also were detected commonly in finished water (after treatment but prior to distribution). Concentrations in source and finished water generally were below 0.1 micrograms per liter and always less than humanhealth benchmarks, which are available for about one-half of the compounds detected. On the basis of this screening-level assessment, adverse effects to human health are expected to be negligible (subject to limitations of available humanhealth benchmarks).
First posted September 2009
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Brown, C.J., Trombley, T.J., 2009, Organic compounds in Running Gutter Brook water used for public supply near Hatfield, Massachusetts, 2003–05, USGS, Fact Sheet 2009–3076, 6 p.