Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Joseph Ryan

Second Advisor

Owen A. Sherwood

Third Advisor

Roseanna M. Neupauer

Abstract

Many residents in six counties on Colorado's Western Slope rely on privately owned groundwater wells as their primary source of drinking water. Because the water quality from these privately-owned wells is unregulated, these wells are often untested, which constitutes a risk to public health. To identify and address the risks to well owners, the West Central Public Health Partnership (WCPHP), recruited homeowners to sample and submit their well water for analyses. The WCPHP requested assistance and expertise to evaluate the hazards of drinking groundwater, and to develop ways to visualize the hazards to educate the public.

Well locations and water quality results were compiled into a database by the WCPHP. We validated both the location and water chemistry results in the database. We evaluated the health risks associated with drinking groundwater from privately-owned wells by comparing the WCPHP groundwater quality results to the Colorado primary and secondary drinking water standards. Of the wells analyzed, 56% of the wells contained well water quality exceeding one or more of the Colorado drinking water standards excluding lead and copper.

Arsenic concentrations exceeding the MCL were found as the highest percentage of the well waters (10.70%). We examined potential anthropogenic and naturally occurring sources of arsenic in a six county wide region in west central Colorado.

A geographical information system was used to compare three interpolation techniques (1) inverse distance weighting, (2) spline, and (3) ordinary kriging to estimate concentrations at unknown location. These results provided a potential option to visualize the hazards in groundwater.

Two geographical information system tools were provided to the WCPHP to educate the public and disseminate well information to private well owners: (1) a website displaying selected WCPHP well water quality information and (2) a notification tool linking current homeowner information with constructed wells in the WCPHP region. We provided WCPHP with the capacity and expertise to evaluate and convey the hazards of drinking groundwater to the public.

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