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Water Quality of Selected Springs and Public-Supply Wells, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, 1992-97

By Allen J. Heakin

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4063

Prepared in cooperation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe


Abstract

This report presents results of a water-quality study for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. The study was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Water Resources Department of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Discharge and water-quality data were collected during 1992-97 for 14 contact springs located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. Data were collected to evaluate potential alternative sources of water supply for the village of Red Shirt, which currently obtains water of marginal quality from a well completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. During 1995-97, water-quality data also were collected for 44 public-supply wells that serve about one-half of the Reservation's population. Quality-assurance sampling was used to evaluate the precision and accuracy of environmental samples.

Ten of the springs sampled contact the White River Group, and four contact the Pierre Shale. Springs contacting the White River Group range from calcium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate water types. Two springs contacting the Pierre Shale have water types similar to this; however, sulfate is the dominant anion for the other two springs. In general, springs contacting the White River Group are shown to have better potential as alternative sources of water supply for the village of Red Shirt than springs contacting the Pierre Shale.

Nine of the springs with better water quality were sampled repeatedly; however, only minor variability in water quality was identified. Six of these nine springs, of which five contact the White River Group, probably have the best potential for use as water supplies. Discharge from any of these six springs probably would provide adequate water supply for Red Shirt during most periods, based on a limited number of discharge measurements collected. Concentrations of lead exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) action level of 15 µg/L for three of these six springs. Five of these six springs also had arsenic concentrations that exceeded 10 µg/L, which could be problematic if the current maximum contaminant level (MCL) is lowered. Blending of water from one or more springs with water from the existing Inyan Kara well may be an option to address concerns regarding both quantity and quality of existing and potential sources.

All nine springs that were sampled for indicator bacteria had positive detections on one or more occasions during presumptive tests. Although USEPA standards for bacteria apply only to public-water supplies, local residents using spring water for domestic purposes need to be aware of the potential health risks associated with consuming untreated water.

One spring contacting the White River Group and two springs contacting the Pierre Shale exceeded 15 pCi/L for gross alpha; these values do not necessarily constitute exceedances of the MCL, which excludes radioactivity contributed by uranium and radon. Additional sampling using different analysis techniques would be needed to conclusively determine if any samples exceeded this MCL. Nine springs were sampled for selected pesticides and tritium. The pesticides atrazine, carbaryl, and 2,4-D were not detected in any of the samples. The nine springs were analyzed for tritium in order to generally assess the age of the water and to determine if concentrations exceeded the MCL established for gross beta-particle activity. Tritium results indicated two springs are composed primarily of water recharged prior to atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs and two other springs have a relatively large percentage of test-era water. The remaining five springs had tritium values that indicated some percentage of test-era water; however, additional sampling would be needed to determine whether water is predominantly pre- or post-bomb age.

Of the 44 public-supply wells sampled, 42 are completed in the Arikaree aquifer, one is completed in an alluvial aquifer, and one is completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. Water from the alluvial well is a sodium bicarbonate water type, water from Arikaree aquifer ranges from calcium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate types, and water from the Inyan Kara well is a calcium sulfate bicarbonate type. Of the 44 wells sampled, 28 (64 percent) tested positive for indicator bacteria in presumptive tests. Because these were single samples that generally were collected upstream from chemical treatment feeders, positive detections do not necessarily constitute exceedances of drinking-water standards.

A single sample from an Arikaree well exceeded the MCL for arsenic of 50 µg/L. Arsenic exceeded 10 µg/L for six additional Arikaree wells and for the alluvial well and the Inyan Kara well, which could be problematic if the current MCL is lowered. The alluvial well also exceeded the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) for dissolved solids, which is non-enforceable, and the action level for lead. The Inyan Kara well exceeded the SMCL's for iron and for manganese and the MCL of 5 pCi/L for radium-226 and 228 combined. Several Arikaree wells exceeded SMCL's for either pH, sulfate, dissolved solids, iron, or manganese. One Arikaree well exceeded the MCL of 4.0 mg/L for fluoride and another exceeded the MCL of 10 mg/L for nitrite plus nitrate.

Ten Arikaree wells equalled or exceeded 15 pCi/L for gross alpha; however, these values do not necessarily constitute exceedances of the MCL, which excludes radioactivity contributed by uranium and radon. Additional sampling using different analysis techniques would be needed to conclusively determine if any samples exceeded this MCL.

Eight wells, all from the Arikaree aquifer, equalled or exceeded the proposed MCL of 20 µg/L for uranium and 33 wells (75 percent) equalled or exceeded one-half of the proposed MCL. Although this standard has only been proposed, additional information regarding the extent of elevated uranium concentrations in the Arikaree aquifer, and the geochemical processes involved, may be beneficial. It was determined from analyses of uranium isotope data for five wells that the source of elevated uranium concentrations is naturally occurring, rather than anthropogenic.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Previous Investigations

Description of Study Area

Physiography and Climate

Geology

Hydrology

Public Water-Supply Systems

Water-Quality Sampling Locations and Methods

Location of Springs and Wells

Sampling Methods

Quality Assurance

Blank Samples

Duplicate Samples

Standard Reference Samples

Summary of Quality-Assurance Data

Water-Quality Data And Analysis for Selected Springs and Wells

Springs

Public-Supply Wells

Summary and Conclusions

References

Supplemental Data

Suggested Citation:

Heakin, A.J., 2000, Water quality of selected springs and public-supply wells, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, 1992-97: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4063, 61 p.



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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, A.J. Heakin (605) 355-4560 ext. 216.

For more information about USGS activities in South Dakota, visit the USGS South Dakota District home page.


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