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HYDROGEOLOGIC CHARACTERISTICS OF FOUR PUBLIC DRINKING-WATER SUPPLY SPRINGS IN NORTHERN ARKANSAS

By Joel M. Galloway

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Abstract

In October 2000, a study was undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Health to determine the hydrogeologic characteristics, including the extent of the recharge areas, for Hughes Spring, Stark Spring, Evening Shade Spring, and Roaring Spring, which are used for public-water supply in northern Arkansas. Information pertaining to each spring can be used to enable development of effective management plans to protect these water resources and public health.

An integrated approach to determine the ground-water characteristics and the extent of the local recharge areas of the four springs incorporated tools and methods of hydrology, structural geology, geomorphology, geophysics, and geochemistry. Analyses of discharge, temperature, and water quality were completed to describe ground-water flow characteristics, source-water characteristics, and connectivity of the ground-water system with surface runoff. Water-level contour maps were constructed to determine ground-water flow directions and ground-water tracer tests were conducted to determine the extent of the recharge areas and ground-water flow velocities.

Hughes Spring supplies water for the city of Marshall, Arkansas, and the surrounding area. The mean annual discharge for Hughes Spring was 2.9 and 5.2 cubic feet per second for water years 2001 and 2002, respectively. Recharge to the spring occurs mainly from the Boone Formation (Springfield Plateau aquifer). Ground-water tracer tests indicate the recharge area for Hughes Spring generally coincides with the surface drainage area (15.8 square miles) and that Hughes Spring is connected directly to the surface flow in Brush Creek.

The geochemistry of Hughes Spring demonstrated variations with flow conditions and the influence of surface-runoff in the recharge area. Calcite saturation indices, total dissolved solids concentrations, and hardness demonstrate noticeable differences with flow conditions reflecting the reduced residence time and interaction of water with the source rock within the ground-water system at higher discharges for Hughes Spring. Concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria also demonstrated a substantial increase during high-flow conditions, suggesting that a non-point source of bacteria possibly from livestock may enter the system. Conversely, nutrient concentrations did not vary with flow and were similar to concentrations reported for undeveloped sites in the Springfield Plateau and Ozark aquifers in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Deuterium and oxygen-18 data show that the Hughes Spring discharge is representative of direct precipitation and not influenced by water enriched in oxygen-18 through evaporation. Discharge data show that Hughes Spring is dominated by conduit type ground-water flow, but a considerable component of diffuse flow also exists in the ground-water system. Carbon-13 data indicate a substantial component of the recharge water interacts with the surface material (soil and regolith) in the recharge area before entering the ground-water system for Hughes Spring. Tritium data for Hughes Spring indicate that the discharge water is a mixture of recent recharge and sub-modern water (recharged prior to 1952).

Stark Spring supplies water for the city of Cushman, Arkansas, and the surrounding area. 2 Hydrogeologic Characteristics of Four Public Drinking-Water Supply Springs in Northern Arkansas The mean annual discharge for Stark Spring was 0.5 and 1.5 cubic feet per second for water years 2001 and 2002, respectively. The discharge and water-quality data show the ground-water system for Stark Spring is dominated by rapid recharge from surface runoff and mainly consists of a conduit- type flow system with little diffuse-type flow. Analyses of discharge data show that the estimated recharge area (0.79 square mile) is larger than the surface drainage area (0.34 square mile). Ground-water tracer tests and the outcrop of the Boone Formation indicate that most of the recharge area extends outside the surface drainage area.

Similar to Hughes Spring, the geochemistry of Stark Spring varied with flow conditions. Calcite saturation indices, total dissolved solids concentrations, and hardness demonstrate noticeable differences with flow conditions reflecting the reduced residence time and interaction of the recharge water with the source rock at higher discharges for Stark Spring. In contrast to Hughes Spring, concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria demonstrated a decrease during high-flow conditions, and this dilution effect may reflect the lack of pastureland or sources of non-point contamination in the recharge area. Nutrient concentrations did not vary with flow. Nitrite plus nitrate concentrations were less than concentrations reported for undeveloped sites in the Springfield Plateau and Ozark aquifers in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, and concentrations of phosphorus and orthophosphorus were slightly higher. Tritium data show that the discharge water is a mixture of recent recharge and sub-modern water (recharged prior to 1952).

Recharge to Evening Shade and Roaring Springs originate from water entering geologic formations in the Ozark aquifer. The springs provide the water supply for the communities of Evening Shade and Cherokee Village, respectively, and the surrounding areas. The mean annual discharge for water years 2001 and 2002 for Evening Shade Spring was 1.44 and 1.24 cubic feet per second, respectively. Roaring Spring had an average flow of 5.7 cubic feet per second for the period of record (July 2001 to October 2002). Little variation in discharge and temperature was evident during high-flow events and throughout the monitoring period for both springs, reflecting the contribution of flow from the Ozark aquifer. As a result, a local recharge area could not be delineated, as the area could include relatively remote locations where geologic formations composing the Ozark aquifer are exposed and have sufficient porosity and hydraulic conductivity to convey water that falls as precipitation to the subsurface. Ground-water flow directions also demonstrated regional flow patterns in each study area from water-level contour maps.

Analyses of major ion concentrations for Evening Shade Spring and Roaring Spring indicated that the source water is a calcium bicarbonate type from a dolomitic mineralogy representative of the Ozark aquifer. Nutrient concentrations generally were lower than Hughes and Stark Springs. Fecal indicator bacteria were not detected at Evening Shade Spring and were detected in only one sample from Roaring Spring. Tritium data show that the discharge water for Evening Shade Spring is a mixture of recent recharge and sub-modern water (recharged prior to 1952) and the discharge water for Roaring Spring was of relatively modern age (recharge within less than 5 to 10 years).


TABLE OF CONTENTS

ILLUSTRATIONS
Figure
  1. Map showing location of springs and study areas.
  2. Photograph showing injection of eosine OJ dye into a swallow hole in the Hughes Spring area.
  3. Stratigraphic column with descriptions of lithologic and geohydrologic properties of the Western Interior Plains confining system and the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system within Arkansas
  4. Map showing geology of the Hughes Spring study area.
  5. Map showing distribution of wells and springs in the Hughes Spring study area.
  6. Diagram showing conceptual model of ground-water flow to Hughes Spring
  7. Graphs showing daily discharge, rainfall, and water temperature recorded at Hughes Spring
  8. Graphs showing discharge and water temperature data from Hughes Spring for four storm events
  9. Map showing water-level contours of the Hughes Spring study area
  10. Map showing locations of dye injection and recovery sites with implied flow paths of dyes and delineated recharge area for Hughes Spring
  11. Graph showing relation of ground-water samples from Hughes Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri241
  12. Graphs showing fecal indicator bacteria and nutrient concentrations for samples collected from Hughes Spring
  13. Graph showing relation of deuterium and oxygen-18 isotope ratios in ground-water samples from Hughes Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri
  14. Map showing geology of the Stark Spring study area
  15. Diagram showing conceptual model of ground-water flow to Stark Spring.
  16. Graphs showing daily discharge, rainfall, and water temperature recorded at Stark Spring
  17. Graphs showing discharge and water temperature data from Stark Spring for three storm events
  18. Graph showing runoff discharge for selected storms from Stark Spring
  19. Map showing locations of dye injection and recovery sites with implied flow path and the estimated local recharge area for Stark Spring
  20. Graph showing the relation of ground-water samples from Stark Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri
  21. Graphs showing fecal indicator bacteria and nutrient concentrations for samples collected at Stark Spring
  22. Graph showing relation of deuterium and oxygen-18 isotope ratios in ground- water samples from Stark Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.
  23. Map showing geology of the Evening Shade Spring study area.
  24. Map showing distribution of wells and springs in the Evening Shade Spring study area
  25. Diagram showing conceptual model of ground-water flow to Evening Shade Spring.
  26. Graphs showing daily discharge, rainfall, and water temperature recorded at Evening Shade Spring
  27. Map showing water-level contours of the Evening Shade Spring study area.
  28. Graph showing the relation of ground-water samples from Evening Shade Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.
  29. Graph showing relation of deuterium and oxygen-18 isotope ratios in ground- water samples from Evening Shade Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri
  30. Map showing geology of the Roaring Spring study area.
  31. Map showing distribution of wells and springs in the Roaring Spring study area.
  32. Diagram showing conceptual model of ground-water flow to Roaring Spring.
  33. Graphs showing daily discharge, rainfall, and water temperature recorded at Roaring Spring.
  34. Map showing water-level contours of the Roaring Spring study area
  35. Graph showing relation of ground-water samples from Roaring Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.
  36. Graph showing relation of deuterium and oxygen-18 isotope ratios in the ground- water sample from Roaring Spring and other wells and springs in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.
TABLES
  1. List of water-quality properties and constituents collected and analyzed at Hughes, Stark, Evening Shade, and Roaring Springs.
  2. Tritium concentrations with relative ages.
  3. Wells and springs inventoried in the Hughes Spring study area.
  4. Results of ground-water tracer tests in the Hughes Spring study area.
  5. Water-quality analyses from samples collected at Hughes Spring, 2001-2002.
  6. Storm events and calculated recharge areas for Stark Spring.
  7. Results of ground-water tracer tests in the Stark Spring study area.
  8. Water-quality analyses from samples collected at Stark Spring, 2001-2002.
  9. Wells and springs inventoried in the Evening Shade Spring study area.
  10. Water-quality analyses from samples collected at Evening Shade Spring, 2001-2002.
  11. Water-quality analyses of samples collected from three wells and one spring in the Evening Shade Spring study area on October 16 and 17, 2002.
  12. Wells and springs inventoried in the Roaring Spring study area.
  13. Water-quality analyses from samples collected at Roaring Spring, 2001-2002
  14. Water-quality analyses of samples collected from two wells and two springs in the Roaring Spring study area on October 16 and 17, 2002

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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