Tracy Branam
Geological Research at the IGS

Groundwater in aquifer systems of LaGrange County–baseline water chemistry, nitrate contamination, and aquifer sensitivity

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Jun 29, 2001 Oct 26, 2004 Lagrange
Director: Nancy Hasenmueller
Other Researchers: Tracy Branam,
Issue: Groundwater is the source of 75 percent of the water withdrawn in the St. Joseph River Basin in LaGrange County. Agriculture is the primary land use in the basin and nearly 78 percent of the acreage in the county is in farms.
Objective: The study was conducted to determine the baseline water chemistry and the levels of naturally occurring and man-made contaminants in the groundwater of LaGrange County.
Approach: A project was initiated to evaluate the chemistry and relative age of groundwater in LaGrange County in northeastern Indiana. The intent of sampling in 2002 was to acquire baseline data by analyzing for selected ions, trace elements, and isotopes in groundwater from 50 public and private wells. Some of the sampled wells draw water from a sand and gravel deposit known as the Topeka fan glacial sequence. Other sampled wells draw water from sand and gravel in the Oliver Lake glacial sequence, which contains more clay and silt than the Topeka fan sequence. During a second phase of the project in 2003, water samples were collected from 18 additional wells that produce groundwater known to have high concentrations of nitrate nitrogen. The 2003 wells draw water from either sand and gravel deposits in the Topeka fan, Lima plain, and interlobate glacial sequences or localized sand and gravel deposits in the lacustrine Oliver Lake glacial sequence. The Topeka fan, Lima plain, and interlobate sequences are areas of groundwater recharge; the Oliver Lake basin is an area of groundwater discharge with areas of local recharge.
Products: Final products include: (1) a final report and educational poster to the funding agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management; (2) copies of the educational poster for display in public facilities in the county, e.g., the LaGrange County Public Library and LaGrange County Health Department; and (3) copies of the individual water-well analyses to the property owners.
Benefits: This work results in a better definition of the rate of recharge to groundwater aquifers and the potential sources of nitrate contamination in selected areas of LaGrange County.

Baseline water chemistry, nitrate contaminations, and aquifer sensitivity of glacial sequences in LaGrange County, Indiana
Hasenmueller, N.R., and Branam, T.D., 2007, Baseline water chemistry, nitrate contaminations, and aquifer sensitivity of glacial sequences in LaGrange County, Indiana, in Sarkar, D., Datta, R., and Hannigan, R., eds., Concepts and applications in environmental geochemistry: Elsevier, Developments in Environmental Science, v. 5, p. 173-193.

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