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Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5182

Prepared in cooperation with the City of Columbia and the Missouri Department of Conservation

Ground-Water Flow, 2004–07, and Water Quality, 1992–2007, in McBaine Bottoms, Columbia, Missouri

By Brenda J. Smith and Joseph M. Richards

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the city of Columbia, Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, collected ground-water quality data, surface-water quality data, and water-level data in McBaine Bottoms, southwest of Columbia. McBaine Bottoms, adjacent to the Missouri River, is the location of the municipal-supply well field for the city of Columbia, the city of Columbia wastewater-treatment wetlands, and the Missouri Department of Conservation Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. This report describes the ground-water flow and water quality of McBaine Bottoms and provides information to better understand the interaction between treated effluent from the wetlands used on the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and the water in the alluvial aquifer that is pumped from the city of Columbia municipal-supply well field.

Changes in major chemical constituent concentrations have been detected at several sampling sites between pre- and post-effluent application data. Analysis of post-effluent data indicates substantial changes in calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate concentrations in ground water. These changes became apparent shortly after the beginning of the operation of the wastewater-treatment wetland in 1994 and the formation of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, which uses the treated effluent as a water source for the management of migratory water fowl. The changes have continued throughout the 15 years of sample collection. The concentrations of these major chemical constituents are on the mixing continuum between pre-effluent ground water as one end member and the treated wastewater effluent as the other end member. For monitoring wells that had changes in major chemical constituent concentrations, the relative percentage of treated effluent in the ground water, assuming chloride is conservative, ranged from 6 to 88 percent.

Twenty-two monitoring wells throughout McBaine Bottoms have been affected by effluent based on chloride concentrations larger than 40 milligrams per liter. The chloride concentration of ground water in the alluvial aquifer reflects several sources, including precipitation, water from the Missouri River, water in the aquifer, and the treated effluent. Chloride concentrations from precipitation, the Missouri River, and water in the alluvial aquifer were less than 40 milligrams per liter. These monitoring wells affected by effluent are located in two general areas—adjacent to treatment wetland unit 1 and near the ground-water high on and north of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. The probable source of the large chloride concentrations in well samples adjacent to treatment wetland unit 1 is leakage from the unit. The source for the large chloride concentrations in the other monitoring well samples is the effluent mixed with ground water and Missouri River water that is used to fill pools on the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. One monitoring well had a single sample with a chloride concentration larger than 40 milligrams per liter. That sample may have been affected by the use of road salt because of the presence of ice and snow immediately before the sample was collected.

Lateral ground-water flow was dominated by the presence of a persistent ground-water high beneath the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and the presence of a cone of depres¬sion centered around the city of Columbia well field in the northern part of the study area. Ground-water flow was radially away from the apex of the ground-water high; west and south of the high, flow was toward the Missouri River, east of the high, flow was toward Perche Creek, and north of the high, flow was to the north toward the cone of depression around the city of Columbia well field. Another permanent feature on the water-level maps was a ground-water high beneath treatment wetland unit 1.

Although the ground-water high was present throughout the study period, the subsurface expression of the high changed depending on hydrologic conditions. The cone of depression in the northern part of the study area generally extended from the base of the ground-water high in the northern part of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area throughout the rest of the study area. The depth of the cone of depression primarily was dependent on the altitude of the Missouri River and the quantity of water being pumped from the alluvial aquifer by the city of Columbia well field.

Posted January 7, 2009

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Missouri Water Science Center
1400 Independence Road
Rolla, MO 65401
(573) 308–3667

Or visit the Missouri Water Science Center Web site at:
http://mo.water.usgs.gov

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Suggested citation:

Smith, B.J., and Richards, J.M., 2008, Ground-water flow, 2004–07, and water quality, 1992–2007, in McBaine Bottoms, Columbia, Missouri: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5182, 70 p.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Ground-Water Flow

Water Quality

Ground-Water Quality Trends

Summary

References Cited

Tables and Figures


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