National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project

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Special studies on source-water and drinking-water quality
Surface-water intakes
General Information

Regional Assessment of Groundwater Quality in the
New England Crystalline-Rock Aquifers

Map of New England Crystalline-rock aquifers and location of wells sampled as part of the NAWQA program.

The New York-New England crystalline-rock aquifers are a group of aquifers that cover parts of New England and New York. The scope of NAWQA studies is only in the New England part of this aquifer group so, hereafter, the group will be referred to as the New England crystalline-rock aquifers. These aquifers are comprised of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Where glacial deposits are thin or non-existent, the crystalline rocks are the primary source of water and are the sole source of water for up to 50 percent of the inhabitants in northern New England and are increasingly being tapped for new water supplies in areas where existing water-supply systems are fully utilized.  

Topics selected for the assessment of water quality:

  • Lithochemical framework of the New England Crystalline-Rock Aquifers describes major geologic and geochemical features related to the bedrock geologic setting of the aquifer (OFR 2008-1282)
  • Highly variable water quality and associated crystalline bedrock lithology underscores the importance of testing individual wells to determine if concentrations for the most commonly detected contaminants exceed human-health benchmarks (SIR 2011-5220)
  • Uranium and radon in groundwater—how geology affects concentrations (SIR 2007-5037)

Featured Publications
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Map showing arsenic concentrations detected in the New England Crystalline-rock aquifer.The high frequency of detections for a wide variety of man-made and naturally occurring contaminants in both domestic and public-supply wells shows the vulnerability of New England Crystalline aquifers to contamination. The highly variable water quality and the association with specific lithologies of the crystalline bedrock underscores the importance of testing individual wells to determine if concentrations for the most commonly detected contaminants-- such as arsenic, uranium, and other radionuclides-- exceed human-health benchmarks. (Download report)

General Information

Detailed information on the hydrogeology of the New England Crystalline-Rock Aquifers can be accessed through the USGS Ground Water Atlas of the United States

For more information, contact:
Kelly Warner, Hydrologist

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