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Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5040

Prepared in cooperation with the City of Columbus, Department of Public Utilities, Division of Water

Groundwater Levels and Water Quality During a 96-Hour Aquifer Test in Pickaway County, Ohio, 2012

By Ralph J. Haefner, Donna L. Runkle, and Brian E. Mailot

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.28 MB)Abstract

During October–November 2012, a 96-hour aquifer test was performed at a proposed well field in northern Pickaway County, Ohio, to investigate groundwater with elevated nitrate concentrations. Earlier sampling done by the City of Columbus revealed that some wells had concentrations of nitrate that approached 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L), whereas other wells and the nearby Scioto River had concentrations from 2 to 6 mg/L. The purpose of the current test was to examine potential changes in water quality that may be expected if the site was developed into a public water-supply source; therefore, water-transmitting properties determined during a previous test were not determined a second time.

Before and during the test, water-level data and water-quality samples were obtained from observation wells while a test production well was pumped at 1,300 gallons per minute. Before the test, local groundwater levels indicated that groundwater was being discharged to the nearby Scioto River, but during the test, the stream was losing streamflow owing to infiltration. Water levels declined in the pumping well, in adjacent observation wells, and in a nearby streambed piezometer as pumping commenced. The maximum drawdown in the pumping well was 29.75 feet, measured about 95 hours after pumping began.

Water-quality data, including analyses for field parameters, major and trace elements, nutrients, and stable isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen in nitrate, demonstrated only small variations before and during the test. Concentrations of nitrate in five samples from the pumping well ranged from about 5.10 to 5.42 mg/L before and during the test, whereas concentrations of nitrate in five samples on or about the same sampling dates and times at a monitoring site on the Scioto River adjacent to the pumping well ranged from 3.46 to 4.97 mg/L. Water from two nearby observation wells had nitrate concentrations approaching 10 mg/L, which is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Contaminant Level for nitrate. Analysis of isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen in nitrate indicated that the source of nitrate is most likely soil nitrogen and fertilizer, with some denitrification and (or) mixing with some manure and septic waste derived from upstream wastewater-treatment facilities.

First posted May 23, 2014

  • Table 4 XLS (25 KB)
    This is an electronic copy of table 4, which contains the results of water-quality analyses from before and during the aquifer test in Pickaway County, Ohio, during October and November 2012.

For additional information, contact:
Director, Ohio Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
6480 Doubletree Avenue
Columbus, OH 43229–1111

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Suggested citation:

Haefner, R.J., Runkle, D.L., and Mailot, B.E., 2014, Groundwater levels and water quality during a 96-hour aquifer test in Pickaway County, Ohio, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5040, 16 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)






Limitations of the Current Study

Summary and Conclusions

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