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Clinton Street Ballpark Aquifer System Cattaraugus Creek Basin Aquifer System

Support Document

  Broome and Tioga Counties New York
December 1984

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Hydrogeology
  • III. Susceptibility to Contamination
  • IV. Alternative Sources of Drinking Water
  • V. Summary
  • VI. Selected References
  • VII. Tables
  • VIII. Figures
    • Figure 1. Clinton Street Ballpark Petitioned Area
    • Figure 2. Typical Geology and Hydrology of Clinton Street-Ballpark Valley Area
    • Figure 3. Stratigraphic Cross Section within Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System
    • Figure 4. Idealized Diagram Illustrating Arrangement of Geologic Units
    • Figure 5. Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System Designated Area (Part 1 of 2)
    • Figure 6. Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System Designated Area (Part 2 of 2)
  • I. Introduction

    A. Statement of Section 1424 (e)

    The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Public Law 93-523, of December 16, 1974 contains a provision in Section 1424(e), which states that:

    If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

    This section allows for the specific designation of areas which are dependent upon an aquifer as its sole drinking water source. Following designation, the review process will ensure that federal agencies will not commit funds toward projects which may contaminate these ground water supplies so as to create a significant hazard to public health.

    B. Receipt of Petition

    On February 26, 1981, the Purity of Water ad-hoc Committee petitioned the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate the Clinton StreetBallpark Aquifer Extension, which constitutes an area whose aquifer systems are the sole or principal drinking water source for the area which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to health.

    Modifications to this petition were requested by the Region and the revised version resubmitted on June 21, 1981.

    A notice of receipt of the petition, together with a request for public comment, was published in the Federal Register (48 FR 18884) on Tuesday, April 26, 1983.

    C. Area of Consideration

    The area petitioned by the Purity of Water ad-hoc Committee is the Clinton StreetBallpark Aquifer Extension, which supplies water to the towns of Vestal, Johnson City and the village of Endicott, in Broome County. A substantial urban and industrial population exists in this location.

    The aquifer system, composed of glacial sediments covering bedrock valleys, underlies the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, occupying approximately forty-one (41) square miles.

    After our Regional review and written comments from the Owego Water Works and the Tioga County Environmental Health Services, EPA decided to extend the area originally petitioned for designation due to the uniformity and continuous geologic nature of the aquifer within the Susquehanna River Valley system. These new boundaries include the aquifer system within both Broome and Tioga Counties extending the area of consideration west and south to the Pennsylvania border at Waverly, north of Chenango Bridge to the Chenango County Line, and south of Kirkwood to the Pennsylvania border.

    II. Hydrogeology

    A. Geologic Framework

    The Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System was formed about 17,000 years ago (Cadwell, 1973) as the last glacier retreated from south-central New York. Deep valleys , originally carved by streams, had been widened and deepened by tongues of ice (Coates, 1966). While the glacier was melting, lakes continually formed between the remaining ice and older sediment down valley. Turbulent rivers of meltwater built deltas of sand and gravel where they entered these lakes, and the silt, clay, and very fine sand they carried in suspension settled to the lake bottoms. Much of the sediment that was deposited west of the Chenango River in Binghamton and Johnson City is permeable sand and gravel that today forms the Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System.

    Glacial deposits in the Susquehanna River basin range from "bright' to "drab" (Denny and Lyford, 1963; Moss and Ritter, 1962). The bright deposits contain fragments of many different rock types from remote locations and thus have a colorful appearance; the drab deposits are derivedalmost entirely from local shale bedrock. Near Binghamton, the drab glacial sand or gravel deposits are slightly older than the bright ones; that is, the bright overlies the drab wherever both types are present. The change is commonly gradational over many feet if no fine-grained beds intervene. Because small tributary streams continued to bring drab gravel into the major valleys after the retreat of the ice, thin postglacial drab gravel may overlie bright glacial gravel near such streams.

    B. Geologic Setting

    The present geologic configuration of the Susquehanna River Basin is underlain by marine shales, siltstones and fine grained sandstones of Upper Devonian. The bedrock has a gentle regional dip of ten to forty feet (10 - 40') per mile in a southerly direction. Superimposed on the regional dip are minor anticlinal and synclinal flexes who axes trend east-west. Two prominent sets of joints, striking north-south and east-west, and having basically vertical dips, exist through out the area.

    During the Pleistocene epoch, glaciation which caused pronounced effects on the regional topography. The region was covered by thick continental ice sheets which scoured and widened preexisting valley areas. As the glacier advanced, major amounts of agglomerated debris (till) were deposited over the underlying bedrock valleys. Kame terraces were formed between the ice and the valley walls. Interglacial lakes, underlain by clay, silt and fine sand, were produced by stagnating tongues of glacial ice.

    During the latter stages of glaciation, meltwaters heavily laden with silt, sand, and gravel deposited this material as stratified outwash plains above the bedrock and till. Glacial drift deposits now exceed two-hundred feet (200') in thickness along the river valley axis, tapering to negligible thicknesses towards the valley walls. The glacial sediments of major hydrologic significance comprising the aquifer system are outwash, kame sand, and gravel.

    Much of the aquifer contains an upper layer of permeable outwash materials which is separated, though still hydraulically connected, from permeable lower layer deposits. This separation is by numerous, discontinuous lenses of impermeable lacustrine silts and clays. These conditions are depicted for in the stratigraphic cross sections.

    C. Ground Water Hydrology

    1. Ground Water Movement

    Various recharge mechanisms enable and direct ground water flow into the aquifer system from the streamflow source zone and the recharge zone. The major ground water flow through the Susquehanna River Basin is westerly, although heavy pumping from municipal or industrial wells causes local fluctuations in the water table surface. To a lesser extent, the water table can change in response to seasonal variations in precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river stage changes.

    Ground water flow rates are generally high because of the medium to high permeability of the soils composing the aquifer system. These rates can change due to various mechanisms. Permeability and infiltration potential depend upon such factors as soil moisture and temperature, density of vegetation, slope, soil texture, depth of seasonal high water table, presence of a water impeding layer and several meteorological factors including intensity and duration of rainfall.

    2. Ground Water Use

    The towns surrounding the Clinton StreetBallpark Aquifer System are heavily dependent upon the ground water for their drinking water supply. In Broome County, the aquifer system provides water use for approximately 111,000 people. During 1980, an average of 16.25 million gallons per day (MGD) was withdrawn from the aquifer for community water systems (Table 1). The quantity of ground water pumped by large corporations, private and domesticwell owners and farms is shown in Table 1.

    The cities of Endicott and Endwell account for more than half of the overall water usage. Another quarter is used by the towns of Johnson City and Vestal. The twenty-two other water districts, covering five municipalities, account for the remaining water usage; these are independent water associations and trailer parks. The city of Binghamton draws its water directly from the Susquehanna River at a source twenty miles (20 mi.) upstream.

    In Tioga County, the aquifer provides ground water for the towns of Waverly, Nichols (Town and Village) and Owego (Town and Village),which lie along the Susquehanna River Valley. As of 1982, the aquifer provided ground water use for approximately 16,555 people living in these towns (Table 2). The water demand totaled about 4 MGD (Table 3). The largest users of ground water are IBM in the town of Owego and Leprino Foods in the town of Barton, combining for 2.03 MGD of water being withdrawn.

    3. Recharge

    Ground water for the Clinton StreetBallpark Valley Aquifer System originates in several ways. Precipitation within the streamflow source zone can directly or indirectly, via captured runoff, recharge the streams and rivers that ultimately enter Susquehanna River Valley. The main waterways include the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, the Naticoke, Oswego, and Catatonk creeks and same smaller feeder streams.

    Precipitation also enters the aquifer system by direct infiltration through permeable soils within the recharge zone or by runoff from surrounding hillsides which are underlain by impermeable till or bedrock. In general, the aquifer area to be designated contains glacial deposits of moderate to high permeability. The glacial deposits in Tioga County can be similarly compared.

    Heavy pumping by numerous wells also recharges the aquifer by creating a hydraulic gradient reversal which allows river water to flow directly into the permeable glacial deposits. This situation is dependent upon the rate of pumpage and has had a significant impact on the Endicott and Johnson City areas (Randall. 1977).

    4. Discharge

    The ground water's major transport mechanisms out of the zone of saturation are evapotranspiration, seepage into the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, direct flow out of the southwest aquifer boundary at Waverly and variable pumpage rates. The intensity of pumping can alter the hydraulic gradients in certain areas and not only change flow directions but also induce recharge from the rivers into that area.

    5. Streamflow Source Zone

    The streamflow source zone which includes both the designated aquifer and its recharge zone extending through both Broome and Tioga Counties,is the upstream headwaters area, which drains via captured runoff and stream drainage into the recharge zone. The recharge zone is the immediate area where water enters the aquifer through very permeable glacial deposits overlying the river valley areas.

    D. Ground Water Quality

    The ground water quality of the aquifer throughout Tioga and Broome Counties is generally good but has begun to deteriorate in recent years. The system provides the major source for public drinking water supplies and industrial use. The waters vary from hard to moderately hard throughout the counties with increased hardness and chloride concentrations found in the aquifer between Binghamton and Johnson City. These conditions are thought to have been caused by increased road salting during the 1950's and 1960's (Randall, 1977).

    The ground water in Tioga County contains practically no bacteria; however, there are several areas in Broome County, within the towns of Johnson City, Endicott and Vestal, where the presence of coliform bacteria has been detected in well water. These levels of bacterial growth have been related to increased excavation and dredging activities in the river. Excavation has been known to disrupt or remove the natural layers of finegrained sediment which prevent the bacteria from entering the aquifer. The levels of bacteria are highest in the areas west of the triple cities (Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott) because of sewage disposal (Randall. 1977).

    Contamination of the ground water resources by industrial chemicals is a problem in both Tioga and Broome Counties. The highly permeable soils overlying the aquifer permit any accidental or intentional chemical discharge to percolate down, thus impacting the ground water.

    In 1982, a study by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission confirmed ground water contamination in Tioga County. In Owego, a manufacturing plant introduced various industrial solvents, including methyl chloroform, trichloroethylene and methyl chloride, into the ground water. In Candor, several domestic wells were polluted by leachate from a sanitary landfill. Testing revealed excessivly high levels of iron, lead, manganese and total dissolved solids.

    In 1980, the Town of Vestal in Broome County closed down two wells which were grossly contaminated with chlorinated organic compounds from a nearby industrial facility.

    E. Designated Areas

    The area that has been designated as the Sole Source Aquifer is defined as the stratified drift and glacial outwash within the valleys. This area is coincident with that identified as a Primary Water Supply Aquifer by New York State Department of Health (1981) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (1987). The aquifer service area is the same as the aquifer area. Figure 1 shows the location and boundaries of the designated area.

    F. Ground Water Use

    Table 1 shows the population served and the amount of water withdrawn by public water suppliers from Broome County. Table 2 shows the population served and the amount of water withdrawn from Tioga County.

    III. Susceptibility to Contamination

    The Clinton StreetBallpark Valley Aquifer System, by virtue of its geologic nature, is susceptible to contamination through several mechanisms. The aquifer is composed of highly permeable glacial sediments with low attenuation capabilities. These properties facilitate rapid and direct infiltration into the ground water zone of any surficially disposed pollutants. Contaminants entering the Susquehanna River through direct discharge or indirectly via feeder streams, can also impact the aquifer because of the significant recharging by the river due to heavy ground water pumpage.

    A highly industrialized and urban population exists along the river valley, especially in Broome County. Past activities associated with such dense inhabitation have localized contamination.

    Ground water pollution can result from spills, landfills, septic tanks, agricultural chemicals, petroleum products and industrial waste lagoons. Illegal dumping is also a possible source of further contamination. Increased hardness and chloride concentrations have been found between the Towns of Binghamton and Johnson City due to excessive road saltingin these areas. This area was also plagued with incidences of coliform bacteria due to dredging and excavation activities in the river and by upstream discharge from several sewage treatment facilities. Over the years, these local incidences of contamination could have long range cumulative effects on the ground water system.

    In summary, the problems connected with the Clinton Street-Ballpark Valley Aquifer System involve the continued pollution of a very permeable aquifer system which serves as the sole or principal drinking water source for the areas inhabitants. Cumulative contamination of this precious resource would create a significant hazard to public health.

    IV. Alternative Sources of Drinking Water

    The towns surrounding the Clinton StreetBallpark Valley Aquifer System are heavily dependent upon the ground water for their drinking water supply. If, in the near future, substantial contamination occurs, grave consequences would ensue. The existing wells could not be relocated to deeper depths because the bedrock underlying the entire system yields little usable water.

    The Susquehanna River would be the only possible alternative water source. However, the feasibility of this plan, because of the considerable costs and uncertain water quality, is questionable. Initially, the river would have to be tapped for supply and then treated for any bacteria. Because of the close interrelationship between the aquifer and the river, baseflow exchange of hazardous chemicals could continually occur and further contaminate the water supply. Completely removing these chemicals on a large scale, if possible, would be very expensive, and the water quality would still be questionable. The possibility of a severe drought in the area, which has occurred in the past, would further promote base flow conditions and severely limit the amount of river water available for use.

    In summary, using the Susquehanna River as a long range alternative to the aquifer system is a questionable option and would ultimately not be cost effective. Besides the aquifer, which could remain a plentiful source of clean water through proper planning and oversight, there are no feasible alternative sources of drinking water available which would be sufficient to supply the needs of the pertinent communities.

    V. Summary

    Based upon the information presented, the Clinton StreetBallpark Aquifer System meets the technical requirements for SSA designation. More than fifty percent (50%) of the drinking water for the aquifer service area is supplied by the Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System. In addition, there are no economically feasible alternative drinking water sources which could replace the Clinton StreetBallpark Aquifer System. It is therefore recommended that the Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System be designated a SSA. Designation will provide an additional review of those projects for which Federal financial assistance is requested, and will ensure ground water protection measures, incorporating state and local measures whenever possible, are built into the projects.

    VI. Selected References

    1. D.H. Cadwell, Glacial Geology of the Chenango River Valley near Binghamton, New York; State University of New York at Binghamton, Publication in Geomorphology. 1973. pp. 31-39.

    2. D.R. Coates, Discussion of K.M. Clayton "Glacial Erosion in the Finger Lakes Region, New York, U.S.A."; Berlin, Zeitschr. Geomorphologie, neue Folge, Bd. 10, Heft 4, S. 469. 1966. [new ser. V. 10, No. 4]

    3. C.S. Denny and W.H. Lyford, Surficial Geology and Soils of the Elmira-Williamsport Region, New York-Pennsylvania; U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 379. 1963. pp. 60.

    4. R.J. Martin, Town of Vestal Water District No. 4, Ground Water Exploration; Martin Consulting Engineer Report. 1983. pp. 41.

    5. R.J. Martin, Comprehensive Water Supply Study for Tioga County, New York; Martin Consulting Engineer Report. 1970. pp. 163.

    6. R.J. Martin, Town of Vestal Water District No. 1, Well Field Contamination Investigation; Martin Consulting Engineer Report. 1983. pp. 92.

    7. J.H. Moss and D.F. Ritter, New Evidence Regarding the Binghamton Substage in the Region Between the Finger Lakes and the Catskills; American Journal of Science, Volume 260. 1962. pp. 81.

    8. Allan D. Randall, The Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer in Binghamton and Johnson City, New York; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Bulletin 73. 1977. pp. 71.

    9. Roger M. Waller and Anne J. Finch, Atlas of Eleven Selected Aquifers in New York; U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Open-File Report 82-553. U.S. Geological Survey. 1982. pp. 41-60.

    VII. Tables

    Table 1. Community Water Suppliers and Population Within Clinton Street-Ballpark Aquifer System for Broome County

    Source Supply Population Served Avge Pumpage (Mgal/day)
    A1 Municipal Endicott Municipal Water Works (11 wells) 45,000 9.000
      Endwell WD 21,620 ----
    2. Johnson City Water Works (4 wells) 17,126 3.550
    3. Vestal WD No. 1 (3 wells), 2, 7, 8, 9 9,656 0.960
    4. Vestal WD No. 4 (3 wells), 3 3,792 0.500
    5. Vestal WD No. 5 900 0.560
    6. Conklin WD No. 1, and 2 (1 well) 2,000 0.275
    7. Kirkwood WD No. 1, 3, and 4 (1 well) 2,448 1.000
    8. Chenango WD No. 1 (2 wells) 1,532 0.150
    9. Chenango WD No. 3 (1 well), and 15 1,046 0.109
    10. Chenango WD No. 4 (Woodland Park) 225 0.013
    11. Chenango WD No. 4 272 0.040
    12. Hillcrest WD No. 1 (3 wells) 3,356 0.500
    13. Applewood Acres (1 well) 280 0.020
    14. Bert & Alice Hale Water Corp (3 wells) 540 0.050
    15. Keller Ave Water Assn.. (1 well) 104 0.006
    16. River Road Water Assn. (1 well) 40 0.003
    17. River Side Co-op Water Assn. (1 well) 110 0.008
    18. Runacre Estates 180 0.012
      Subtotal 110,227 16.200
    B. Other Trailer Parks (8) 500 0.050
      TOTALS 110,727 16.250


    Table 2. Municipal Water Supplies of Tioga County

    Water Supplier Owner Population Served Source
    Waverly (V) ** Waverly (V) 5,255 Surface, 3 Wells
    Candor (V) Candor (V) 1,000 2 Wells
    Newark Valley (V) Newark Valley 1,400 2 Wells
    Nichols Water Co. Private 500 1 Well
    Owego Water Works* Private 5,600 3 Wells
    Owego WD No. 2 Owego (T) 2,000 2 Wells
    Owego WD No.3 Owego (T) 1,800 2 Wells
    Owego WD No. 4 Owego (T) 1,400 3 Wells


    (V) = Village
    (T) = Town
    WD = Water District

    * Owego Water Works serves the Village of Owego, Owego W.D. Number 1 and W.D. No. 5 and the facilities of IBM.

    ** In July, 1981, the Village of Waverly began using an upland reservoir supply treated through slow sand filtration. They experienced operating problems within six (6) weeks and had to switch back to their ground water supplies. They returned to their surface supply in August, 1982, and are using their ground water supplies as a backup to the system.

    Table 3. Average Ground Water Used by Tioa County Municipal Water Supplies

    Supplier Withdrawal Usage
    Waverly (V) 1.0 0.75
    Candor (V) 0.16 0.16
    Newark Valley (V) 0.15 0.15
    Nichols Water Co. 0.10 0.06
    Owego Water Works 2.05 1.64
    Owego WD No. 2 & 4 0.65 0.50
    Owego WD No. 3 0.20 0.15


    Industries Using More than 100,000 Gallons Per Day of Water
    Town Company Source Daily Consumption
    Owego IBM Owego Water Works 1.3 mgd
    Barton Leprino Foods Waverly Municipal Supply 0.35 mgd (Total)
        Private Wells 0.17 from Waverly
          0.18 from Private

    VIII. Figures

    Clinton Street Ballpark Figures



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