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Groundwater-derived contaminant fluxes along a channelized Coastal Plain stream

LaSage, Danita M., Fryar, Alan E., Mukherjee, Abhijit, Sturchio, Neil C., Heraty, Linnea J.
Journal of hydrology 2008 v.360 no.1-4 pp. 265-280
streams, water pollution, groundwater flow, groundwater contamination, surface water, volatile organic compounds, technetium, chlorinated hydrocarbons, springs (water), seasonal variation, Kentucky
Recent studies in various settings across eastern North America have examined the movement of volatile organic compound (VOC) plumes from groundwater to streams, but few studies have addressed focused discharge of such plumes in unlithified sediments. From 1999 through 2002, we monitored concentrations of trichloroethene (TCE) and the non-volatile co-contaminant technetium-99 (⁹⁹Tc) along Little Bayou Creek, a first-order perennial stream in the Coastal Plain of western Kentucky. Spring flow contributed TCE and ⁹⁹Tc to the creek, and TCE concentrations tended to vary with ⁹⁹Tc in springs. Contaminant concentrations in stream water fluctuated seasonally, but not always synchronously with stream flow. However, contaminant influxes varied seasonally with stream flow and were dominated by a few springs. Concentrations of O₂, [formula removed], and [formula removed], values of δ³⁷ClDOCl in groundwater, and the lack of less-chlorinated ethenes in groundwater and stream water indicated that anaerobic biodegradation of TCE was unlikely. Losses of TCE along Little Bayou Creek resulted mainly from volatilization, in contrast to streams receiving diffuse contaminated discharge, where intrinsic bioremediation of VOCs appears to be prevalent.