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Water Resources of Alaska

Ground-Water Conditions and Quality in the Western Part of Kenai Peninsula, Southcentral Alaska

by Roy L. Glass


The western part of Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska is bounded by Cook Inlet and the Kenai Mountains. Ground water is the predominant source of water for commercial, industrial, and domestic uses on the peninsula. Mean daily water use in an oil, gas, and chemical processing area north of Kenai is more than 3.5 million gallons. Unconsolidated sediments of glacial and fluvial origin are the most productive aquifers. In the upper (northwestern) peninsula, almost all water used is withdrawn from unconsolidated sediments, which may be as thick as 750 feet. In the lower peninsula, unconsolidated sediments are thinner and are absent on many hills. Water supplies in the lower peninsula are obtained from unconsolidated sediments and bedrock, and a public-water supply in parts of Homer is obtained from Bridge Creek. Throughout the peninsula, ground-water flow occurs primarily as localized flow controlled by permeability of aquifer materials and surface topography. The concentration of constituents analyzed in water from 312 wells indicated that the chemical quality of ground water for human consumption varies from marginal to excellent. Even though the median concentration of dissolved solids is low (152 milligrams per liter), much of the ground water on the peninsula does not meet water-quality regulations for public drinking water established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). About 8 percent of wells sampled yielded water having concentrations of dissolved arsenic that exceeded the USEPA primary maximum contaminant level of 50 micrograms per liter. Concentrations of dissolved arsenic were as great as 94 micrograms per liter. Forty-six percent of wells sampled yielded water having concentrations of dissolved iron greater than the USEPA secondary maximum contaminant level of 300 micrograms per liter. Unconsolidated sediments generally yield water having calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate as its predominant ions. In some areas, ground water at depths greater than a few hundred feet may be naturally too salty for human consumption. The leaking and spilling of fuel and chemical products and the disposal of industrial wastes has degraded the quality of ground water at numerous sites.

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Glass, R.L., 1996, Ground-water conditions and quality in the western part of Kenai Peninsula, south-central Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 96-466,66 p. + appendix

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Last Modified: June 29, 2001

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