Monday, September 21, 2009

What goes in the ground....

The protection of well water.
We will start with what people do not want to hear first and go from there.
If you are on a well, I would never add man made fertilizer or insecticides or herbicides to the lawn. Period.
It will get into the well.
A well draws in a manner that can be almost considered conical. That deep water "aquifer" that seems to be a prevalent notion is not all that is talked about.
Bedrock is not a solid impermeable mass that keeps surface water from deep water. It is full of cracks and crevices and areas where the water from top goes down into the water bearing rock.
The recharge area for a well can be describe as a direct relation between its depth and yield. The deeper a well or the more yield it has, the further the draw range of the well.
Rain water provides a good portion of the water that comes from a well, so what you put on your lawn, you drink.
Soils filter out a great number of things - bacteria, very quickly and many common items that are nutrient based.
Gasoline and oils, not at all. And pesticides. even though they are not generally water soluble, will slowly find their way to a well.
If the well is near a river, what is in the river, what is dumped in the river, will also find its way into the well. A river will skew the conical draw of a well with it giving more to the well than the rain.
Then there are septic systems, usually put on the other side of a house, but septic systems are considered the primary recharge for wells. All the normal stuff is well filtered out by 25 feet, but what if you clean out your oil based paint brushes in the slop sink leading to the well? Right into your drinking water.
How far is this influence of a recharge zone? Deepends on the draw of the well, the depth and yeild, but it can be up to 200 yards, easily.
What about a dump?
It could effect wells near it.
Here though is also where the idea of an "aquifer" comes to play. Ground water and subsurface water slowly seeps in a down slope manner.
In Connecticut, the Glaciers created a general movement North to South.
You look to the south of a dump for the worst of the situation here.
How much well contamination is from homeowners? Most.
How much from dumps? Too much.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Water woes

There will be a couple of posts to clarify the main subject of this post.
This first one will deal directly with what I believe are import elements when searching for contamination in the ground.
I will focus first on the searching at Scofieldtown dump area.
Lots of things were dumped there, so a review of what should not be looked for is important.
The first 2 are metals, arsenic and mercury. They are not good things period and may or may not have been dumped at the site, but guaranteed they are in the soil. Why?
Arsenic was the primary insecticide for apple trees for years. Guess what Connecticut used to (and still does in some parts) grow abundantly? Apples.
Do I expect to be able to find arsenic in wells? Yes. Is it related to the dump? No.
Is it important? Very and my predecessor will have a machine to be able to do those surveys. I just could not coax the necessary sensitivity out of the 1985 Perkin Elmer graphite furnace AA that I got for our lab.
Mercury. the reason we have to be careful of the fish we eat is mercury and in Connecticut its main source is the Ohio coal burning electric power plants that the EPA refuses to regulate.
Right now of course the big furor is over pesticides and the residents have every right to be concerned, they are dangerous, but did it come from the dump? I doubt it.
The pesticides found were used extensively for years. Are they dangerous? Yes.
Do they get into wells after years of not being used, Yes again.
The wells in question are only a few feet from the homes, but that is a topic for another day.
The city needed to help the people. That was my push. They did.
So what should one look for?
Solvents. VOCs is the technical term, but when I find methyl ethyl ketone or toluene or trichloroethylene or any oil cutting solvent in any of the test results, that is definitely coming from the dump.
Chromium would be anothwer one, but all the past and recent tests do not show it even at the dump site.
That is my thinking.