Ground-Water Quality Beneath an Urban Residential and Commercial Area, Montgomery, Alabama, 1999 – 2000

U.S. Geological Survey
Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4052

By James L. Robinson

The full report is available in PDF.  Links to the PDF ).


The Black Warrior River aquifer, which is composed of the Coker, Gordo, and Eutaw Formations, supplies more than 50 percent of the ground water used for public water supply in the Mobile River Basin. The city of Montgomery, Alabama, is partially built upon a recharge area for the Black Warrior River aquifer, and is one of many major population centers that depend on the Black Warrior River aquifer for public water supply. To represent the baseline ground-water quality in the Black Warrior River aquifer, water samples were collected from 30 wells located in a low-density residential or rural setting; 9 wells were completed in the Coker Formation, 9 wells in the Gordo Formation, and 12 wells in the Eutaw Formation. To describe the ground-water quality beneath Montgomery, Alabama, water samples also were collected from 30 wells located in residential and commercial areas of Montgomery, Alabama; 16 wells were completed in the Eutaw Formation, 8 wells in alluvial deposits, and 6 wells in terrace deposits. The alluvial and terrace deposits directly overlie the Eutaw Formation with little or no hydraulic separation. Ground-water samples collected from both the rural and urban wells were analyzed for physical properties, major ions, nutrients, metals, volatile organic compounds, and pesticides. Samples from the urban wells also were analyzed for bacteria, chlorofluorocarbons, dissolved gases, and sulfur hexafluoride. Ground-water quality beneath the urban area was compared to baseline water quality in the Black Warrior River aquifer.


Compared to the rural wells, ground-water samples from urban wells contained greater concentrations or more frequent detections of chloride and nitrate, and the trace metals aluminium, chromium, cobalt, copper, nickel, and zinc. Pesticides and volatile organic compounds were detected more frequently and in greater concentrations in ground-water samples collected from urban wells than in ground-water samples from rural wells.


The Spearman rho test was used to check for statistically significant covariance among urban ground-water quality and land-use type. The number of pesticides and volatile organic compounds detected and concentrations of nickel increased as the percentage of residential land use increased. Greater nickel concentrations also were associated with a greater number of volatile organic compounds detected. As the percentage of commercial land use increased, the numbers of pesticides and volatile organic compounds detected decreased. The number of pesticides detected in the urban ground-water samples increased as concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate increased; the number of pesticides detected and the concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate decreased as the age of the ground water increased. These correlations may indicate that, with time, pesticides and nitrate are removed from the ground-water system by physical, chemical, or biological processes.


The effects of surficial geology on the occurrence of pesticides and volatile organic compounds was investigated by calculating frequencies of detection. The detection frequency for pesticides was greater for urban samples collected from wells where the surficial geology is sand than for urban samples collected from wells where the surficial geology is clay. The frequency of detection of volatile organic compounds did not show this relation.




Purpose and scope

Previous investigations


Environmental setting

Description of the study area

Hydrogeology of the shallow aquifer

Study design and methods

Land-use selection

Well network.

Land-use classification

Water-quality samples

Quality-assurance and quality-control procedures

Graphical and statistical methods

Chemical and physical properties of the shallow aquifer

Soil characteristics

Sediment core analyses

Lithology of the shallow aquifer

Water quality in the shallow aquifer

Chemistry of natural ground water

Ground-water quality beneath an urban area of Montgomery, Alabama

Occurrence and distribution of major ions

Occurrence and distribution of nutrients

Occurrence and distribution of trace metals

Occurrence and distribution of pesticides

Occurrence and distribution of volatile organic compounds

Age of ground water

Relations among ground-water quality, ground-water age, land use, and geology




The text and graphics are presented here in pdf format (print quality):

The full report is 3.9MB cover 107KB


If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, you may view and/or print the PDF version of this report. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you may download it here.

Users with visual disabilities can visit this site for conversion tools and information to help make PDF files accessible.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL:
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Last modified: Wednesday, December 07 2016, 01:11:13 PM
FirstGov button  Take Pride in America button