US Geological Survey

Iron Biofouling is a Costly Problem in Long Island Ground Water

High concentrations of dissolved iron in ground water contribute to the biofouling of public-supply wells, and the treatment and remediation of biofouling are costly. Water companies on Long Island, N.Y., spend several million dollars annually (1) reconditioning, redeveloping, and replacing supply wells and distribution lines, (2) treating dissolved iron with sequestering agents or by filtration, and (3) responding to iron-related complaints by customers. Dissolved iron concentrations in ground water, and the frequency of iron biofouling of wells, are highest in ground-water discharge zones, particularly near the south shore on Long Island. The term "aquifer biofouling" generally refers to the degradation of ground-water quality by bacteria and contributes to iron encrustation and corrosion of wells, pumps, distribution lines, and treatment systems. The report, titled “Iron in the aquifer system of Suffolk County, New York—1990-98,” by Craig J. Brown, Donald A Walter, and Steven Colabufo, is released as U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations 99-4126. This report summarizes the results of studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Suffolk County Water Authority to characterize the geochemistry and microbiology of iron in the aquifer system of Suffolk County and provides information pertinent to the siting and operation of supply wells.

The following links are included for more information on USGS research on iron in the Long Island aquifer system:

Contact name: Richard Cartwright / Craig Brown
email: /
phone: 516-736-0783 x105 / 860-291-6766

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintainer: New York District
Last update: 15:40:50 Monday 14 January 2013
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