US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Section 8 of Hydrogeologic Settings and Ground-Water Flow Simulations for Regional Studies of the Transport of Anthropogenic and Natural Contaminants to Public-Supply Wells—Studies Begun in 2001.
Professional Paper 1737–A
U.S. Department of the Interior/ U.S. Geological Survey


The transport of anthropogenic and natural contaminants to public-supply wells was evaluated in a part of the High Plains aquifer near York, Nebraska, as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program. The aquifer in the Eastern High Plains regional study area is composed of Quaternary alluvial deposits typical of the High Plains aquifer in eastern Nebraska and Kansas, is an important water source for agricultural irrigation and public water supply, and is susceptible and vulnerable to contamination. A six-layer, steady-state ground-water flow model of the High Plains aquifer near York, Nebraska, was constructed and calibrated to average conditions for the time period from 1997 to 2001. The calibrated model and advective particle-tracking simulations were used to compute areas contributing recharge and travel times from recharge areas to selected public-supply wells. Model results indicate recharge from agricultural irrigation return flow and precipitation (about 89 percent of inflow) provides most of the ground-water inflow, whereas the majority of ground-water discharge is to pumping wells (about 78 percent of outflow). Particle-tracking results indicate areas contributing recharge to public-supply wells extend northwest because of the natural ground-water gradient from the northwest to the southeast across the study area. Particle-tracking simulations indicate most ground-water travel times from areas contributing recharge range from 20 to more than 100 years but that some ground water, especially that in the lower confined unit, originates at the upgradient model boundary instead of at the water table in the study area and has travel times of thousands of years.