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Open-File Report 2011–1180

Prepared in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Groundwater Quality in the Lake Champlain Basin, New York, 2009

By Elizabeth A. Nystrom


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Water was sampled from 20 production and domestic wells from August through November 2009 to characterize groundwater quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in New York. Of the 20 wells sampled, 8 were completed in sand and gravel, and 12 were completed in bedrock. The samples were collected and processed by standard U.S. Geological Survey procedures and were analyzed for 147 physiochemical properties and constituents, including major ions, nutrients, trace elements, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radionuclides, and indicator bacteria.

Water quality in the study area is generally good, but concentrations of some constituents equaled or exceeded current or proposed Federal or New York State drinking-water standards; these were color (1 sample), pH (3 samples), sodium (3 samples), total dissolved solids (4 samples), iron (4 samples), manganese (3 samples), gross alpha radioactivity (1 sample), radon-222 (10 samples), and bacteria (5 samples). The pH of all samples was typically neutral or slightly basic (median 7.1); the median water temperature was 9.7°C. The ions with the highest median concentrations were bicarbonate [median 158 milligrams per liter (mg/L)] and calcium (median 45.5 mg/L). Groundwater in the study area is soft to very hard, but more samples were hard or very hard (121 mg/L or more as CaCO3) than were moderately hard or soft (120 mg/L or less as CaCO3); the median hardness was 180 mg/L as CaCO3. The maximum concentration of nitrate plus nitrite was 3.79 mg/L as nitrogen, which did not exceed established drinking-water standards for nitrate plus nitrite (10 mg/L as nitrogen). The trace elements with the highest median concentrations were strontium (median 202 micrograms per liter [μg/L]), and iron (median 55 μg/L in unfiltered water). Six pesticides and pesticide degradates, including atrazine, fipronil, disulfoton, prometon, and two pesticide degradates, CIAT and desulfinylfipronil, were detected among five samples at concentrations of 0.02 μg/L or less; they included herbicides, herbicide degradates, insecticides, and insecticide degradates. Six VOCs were detected among six samples; these included a solvent, the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and four trihalomethanes. The highest radon-222 activities were in samples from crystalline bedrock wells (maximum 4,100 picocuries per liter [pCi/L]); half of all samples exceeded a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) drinking-water standard of 300 pCi/L. Total coliform bacteria were detected in five samples, fecal coliform bacteria were detected in one sample, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) were not detected in any sample.

First posted August 15, 2011

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
New York Water Science Center
425 Jordan Road
Troy, NY 12180

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Suggested citation:

Nystrom, E.A., 2011, Groundwater quality in the Lake Champlain Basin, New York, 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1180, 42 p., at




Purpose and Scope

Hydrogeologic Setting

Methods of Investigation

Well Selection

Sampling Methods

Analytical Methods

Quality Control Samples

Groundwater Quality

Physiochemical Properties

Major Ions

Nutrients and Organic Carbon

Trace Elements


Volatile Organic Compounds



Wells Sampled in 2004 and 2009


References Cited

Appendix 1: Results of Water-Sample Analyses

Appendix 2: Comparison of Data from 2004 and 2009

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