WRIR 93-4027

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Berndt, M.P., 1993, Ground-Water Quality near an Inactive Landfill and Sludge-Spreading Area, Tallahassee, Florida: Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4027, 23 p.


Ground-water quality of a 120-acre area encompassing an inactive landfill southwest of Tallahassee, Florida, was assessed by installing and sampling 21 monitoring wells. Sludge from a municipal sewage-treatment plant was also applied to the land surface near the landfill site. Water samples were collected from the 21 monitoring wells from June 1987 through September 1990 and analyzed for concentrations of major ions, nitrogen species, trace metals, field measurements, and more than 140 organic constituents. Water quality in the Upper Floridan aquifer at the study site was compared to background water quality in other areas of Leon County. Ground-water quality of the study site was evaluated by the location of wells sampled in relation to the landfill and the sludge-spreading areas.

Results of nonparametric statistical analysis indicated that potassium and nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen concentrations in water samples from wells completed in the Upper Floridan aquifer at the study site were significantly different at the 5 percent probability level from those in samples from background wells completed in this aquifer in Leon County. Median potassium concentrations were 0.4 mg/L (milligrams per liter) in water from wells at the study site and 0.7 mg/L in water from background wells in Leon County. Median nitrite plus nitrate concentrations were 6.48 mg/L in water samples from wells at the study site and 0.51 mg/L in water samples from background wells.

Graphical comparison of the water quality characteristics in water from six categories of wells; upgradient, landfill, adjacent to the landfill, downgradient onsite, downgradient offsite, and background Leon County, indicated that sodium, bicarbonate, sulfate, iron, manganese, and dissolved solids concentrations and specific conductance values were highest within the landfill. Upgradient and downgradient well categories include wells in areas affected by sludge spreading. Localized reducing conditions were indicated in a downgradient area by median iron concentrations of 930 and 30 ug/L (micrograms per liter) in samples from wells only 5 feet apart. Nitrite plus nitrate concentrations were lowest in water from wells in the landfill compared to water from the other categories. Concentrations of most trace elements and organic compounds were mostly below detection limits, although State maximum contaminant levels of 1 ug/L for benzene and vinyl chloride and 3 ug/L for tetrachloroethene were exceeded in 14 samples.

Concentrations of sodium, potassium, chloride, sulfate, nitrite plus nitrate, total organic and ammonia nitrogen, and ammonia nitrogen in ground water were statistically analyzed in areas affected by sludge-spreading and other areas. Only nitrite plus nitrate and chloride concentrations were significantly different between the two areas. Median nitrite plus nitrate and chloride concentrations in sludge-spreading areas were 6.9 mg/L and 2.9 mg/L, respectively, compared to 1.1 mg/L and 1.8 mg/L in other areas.