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Kansas Geological Survey, Chemical Quality Series 12, originally published in 1991
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Summary and conclusions

Samples were collected from 50 different wells, each associated with a particular major aquifer system in Kansas, including a number of alluvial sources. The samples were analyzed for TOC, TFP, and an array of inorganic chemical constituents. In addition, the 31 samples from public water supplies were analyzed to determine their ITHM and TTHM concentrations.

The mean and median TOC concentrations were 1.03 and 0.84 mg/L, while the mean and median TFP concentrations were 46.7 and 30.6 µg/L, respectively. The mean TFP yield was 0.242 ± 0.07 ~Lmol/mg of TOC, and the TFP concentration in micromoles per liter was very strongly correlated (r = 0.953) with TOC. Only 8% of the samples had a TFP concentration exceeding the present MCL for THMs of 100 µg/L, but 56% exceeded 25 µg/L and 90% exceeded 10 µg/L, suggesting that many Kansas water supply systems using ground water might have difficulty meeting a substantially lower THM standard.

The average ITHM concentration was only 6.95 µg/L, while the average TTHM concentration was 35.6 µg/L. Hence, only a small fraction of the THM concentration to which consumers might be exposed is formed prior to distribution. For the 21 TTHM samples having a free chlorine residual at the end of the incubation period, TTHM was strongly correlated to both TOC (r = 0.819) and TFP (r = 0.926), suggesting that either of these might be a good surrogate measure for TTHM.

TOC (and TFP) appeared to be unrelated to aquifer (well-screen) depth, but both were clearly much higher in the alluvial aquifers, all of which were located at relatively shallow depths. TOC also appeared to be unrelated to the inorganic constituents present in the samples, with the exception of a subset of samples from alluvial aquifers having high concentrations of NH4+ (>0.1 mg/L) and Fe + Mn (>1,000 µg/L). For these samples, TOC was strongly correlated with both NH4+ (r = 0.676) and Fe + Mn (r = 0.991). These relationships merit further investigation, since all of the constituents involved pose problems for water-treatment plants.

In Kansas, efforts to control THMs in public water supplies from ground-water sources should focus primarily on alluvial aquifers, especially those having high concentrations of TOC, NH4+, Fe, and Mn. TOC and TFP may be useful surrogates for TTHM and could be used as a basis for exemptions from monitoring requirements. Use of combined chlorine appears to be the simplest and most effective means of limiting THM formation, but the necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that the microbial quality of the drinking-water supply is not compromised.


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Kansas Geological Survey
Placed on web Nov. 6, 2012; originally published in 1991.
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