Groundwater-quality data for the Madera/Chowchilla–Kings shallow aquifer study unit, 2013–14: Results from the California GAMA Program
Shelton, J.L., and Fram, M.S., 2017, U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1019
Groundwater quality in the 2,390-square-mile Madera/Chowchilla–Kings Shallow Aquifer study unit was investigated by the U.S. Geological Survey from August 2013 to April 2014 as part of the California State Water Resources Control Board Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program’s Priority Basin Project. The study was designed to provide a statistically unbiased, spatially distributed assessment of untreated groundwater quality in the shallow aquifer systems of the Madera, Chowchilla, and Kings subbasins of the San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin. The shallow aquifer system corresponds to the part of the aquifer system generally used by domestic wells and is shallower than the part of the aquifer system generally used by public-supply wells. This report presents the data collected for the study and a brief preliminary description of the results.
Groundwater samples were collected from 77 wells and were analyzed for organic constituents, inorganic constituents, selected isotopic and age-dating tracers, and microbial indicators. Most of the wells sampled for this study were private domestic wells. Unlike groundwater from public-supply wells, the groundwater from private domestic wells is not regulated for quality in California and is rarely analyzed for water-quality constituents. To provide context for the sampling results, however, concentrations of constituents measured in the untreated groundwater were compared with regulatory and non-regulatory benchmarks established for drinking-water quality by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of California, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Of the 319 organic constituents assessed in this study (90 volatile organic compounds and 229 pesticides and pesticide degradates), 17 volatile organic compounds and 23 pesticides and pesticide degradates were detected in groundwater samples; concentrations of all but 2 were less than the respective benchmarks. The fumigants 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) and 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB) were detected at concentrations above their respective regulatory benchmarks in samples from a total of four wells.
Most detections of inorganic constituents were at concentrations or activities less than the respective benchmark levels. Five inorganic constituents were detected in groundwater samples from one or more wells at concentrations or activities greater than their respective regulatory, health-based benchmarks: arsenic, uranium, nitrate, adjusted gross alpha particle activity, and gross beta particle activity. Four inorganic constituents were detected in samples from one or more wells at concentrations or activities greater than their respective non-regulatory, health-based benchmarks: manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, and radon-222. Three inorganic constituents were detected in groundwater samples from one or more wells at concentrations greater than their respective non-regulatory, aesthetic-based benchmarks: iron, sulfate, and total dissolved solids.
Microbial indicators (Escherichia coli, total coliform, and enterococci) were analyzed for presence or absence. The presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) was not detected; the presence of total coliform was detected in samples from 10 of the 72 grid wells for which it was analyzed, and the presence of enterococci was detected in samples from 5 of the 73 grid wells analyzed.