The Columbia Plateau, Snake River Plain, and Hawaii are large volcanic areas in the western United States and mid-Pacific ocean that contain extensive regional aquifers of a hard, gray, volcanic rock called basalt. Residents of the Columbia Plateau, the Snake River Plain, and the island of Oahu depend on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Although the depth to the water table can be several hundred feet, the groundwater is highly vulnerable to contamination because the permeable sediments and rocks allow contaminants to move readily down to the water table. Intense agricultural and urban activities occur above the drinking-water supply and are increasing in some areas. Contaminants, such as nitrate, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds, associated with agricultural and urban activities, have adversely affected groundwater quality.
Summary Report for the National Water-Quality Assessment Program Principal Aquifers Series, "The Quality of Our Nation's Waters—"
Circular 1360—Water Quality in Principal Aquifers of the United States, 1991–2010
Circular 1337—Water Quality in the High Plains Aquifer, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, 1999–2004
Circular 1352—Water Quality in the Glacial Aquifer System, Northern United States, 1993–2009
Circular 1353—Water Quality in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Surficial Aquifer System, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, 1988–2009
Circular 1354—Water Quality in the Principal Aquifers of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Valley and Ridge Regions, Eastern United States, 1993–2009
Circular 1355—Water Quality in the Upper Floridan Aquifer and Overlying Surficial Aquifers, Southeastern United States, 1993–2010
Circular 1356—Water Quality in the Mississippi Embayment–Texas Coastal Uplands Aquifer System and Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer, South-Central United States, 1994–2008
Circular 1357—Water Quality in the Denver Basin Aquifer System, Colorado, 2003–05
Circular 1358—Water Quality in Basin-Fill Aquifers of the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, 1993–2009
Circular 1359—Groundwater Quality in the Columbia Plateau and Snake River Plain Basin-Fill and Basaltic-Rock Aquifers and the Hawaiian Volcanic-Rock Aquifers, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii, 1993–2005
First posted January 21, 2015
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Rupert, M.G., Hunt, C.D., Jr., Skinner, K.D., Frans, L.M., and Mahler, B.J., 2014, The quality of our Nation’s waters—Groundwater quality in the Columbia Plateau and Snake River Plain basin-fill and basaltic-rock aquifers and the Hawaiian volcanic-rock aquifers, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii, 1993–2005: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1359, 88 p., https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/cir1359.
ISSN 1067–084X (print)
ISSN 2330–5703 (online)
Chapter 1: Overview of Major Findings and Implications
Chapter 2: NAWQA Approach to Assessing Groundwater Quality
Chapter 3: Environmental and Hydrogeologic Setting
Chapter 4: Natural Processes and Human Activities That Affect Groundwater Quality
Chapter 5: Quality of the Groundwater Resource Used for Drinking
Chapter 6: Understanding Where and Why Key Contaminants Occur in Groundwater