Naturally occurring arsenic contamination is common in ground water in the upper Midwest. Arsenic is most likely to be present in glacial drift and shallow bedrock wells that lie within the footprint of northwest provenance Late Wisconsinan glacial drift. Elevated arsenic is more common in domestic wells and in monitoring wells than it is in public water system wells. Arsenic contamination is also more prevalent in domestic wells with short screens set in proximity to an upper confining unit, such as glacial till. Public water system wells have distinctly different well-construction practices and well characteristics when compared to domestic and monitoring wells. Construction practices such as exploiting a thick, coarse aquifer and installing a long well screen yield good water quantity for public water system wells. Coincidentally, these construction practices also often yield low arsenic water. Coarse aquifer materials have less surface area for adsorbing arsenic, and thus less arsenic available for potential mobilization. Wells with long screens set at a distance from an upper confining unit are at lower risk of exposure to geochemical conditions conducive to arsenic mobilization via reductive mechanisms such as reductive dissolution of metal hydroxides and reductive desorption of arsenic.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this project and related work was provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and the Water Resources Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; the Minnesota Department of Health and the US Geological Survey. We appreciatively thank the two anonymous reviewers, who provided thoughtful and detailed comments that greatly improved the final manuscript.
- Ground water
- Well characteristics