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Groundwater beneath an industrial park at Olean, New York, contained nitrogen compounds in concentrations that in 1983 ranged from 10 to 1,280 mg/L as nitrogen, mainly in the form of ammonium. Continuous pumping from an industrial well field creates a cone of depression that prevents the nitrogen compounds from migrating to municipal-supply wells, 7,000 ft away. A two-dimensional solute transport model was used to simulate changes in nitrogen concentrations that would result from a permanent shutdown of the well field. The model assumed the nitrogen source decayed at an exponential rate with a decay constant of 0.3/year to account for nitrogen removed from the aquifer by pumping during 1978-84. The source of contamination was found to be sensitive to the volume of pumpage at the industrial well field, which altered the rate of groundwater flow through the contaminated area. Simulations of a permanent shutdown of the well field, assuming nitrogen migrates as a conservative solute, indicated that nitrogen-bearing groundwater would reach the municipal well field within 5 years and the peak concentrations at the municipal well field would range from 2 to 5 mg/L. Simulations of Langmuir adsorption of the dissolved ammonium with a one-dimensional model indicated that the arrival of the solute front at the municipal well field would be retarded by a factor of three. (USGS)


USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report: 87-4043