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A Plan For Assessing the Occurence and Distribution of Methyl tert -Butyl Ether and Other Volatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water and Ambient Ground Water in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions of the United States

Stephen J. Grady and George D. Casey

U.S. Geolgocial Survey
101 Pitkin Street
East Harford, CT 06108
Phone (860)-291-6758,

A plan to assess the occurrence and distribution of methyl tert -butyl ether (MTBE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water and ambient ground water in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States was designed to meet two primary objectives. This study will provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with information on potential human exposure to MTBE and other VOCs from drinking water. In addition, the study will further the goals of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) by providing additional information on the occurrence and distribution of VOCs in ambient ground water beneath a large, highly urbanized part of the Nation. The study will proceed in two phases---a drinking-water assessment (phase 1) and an ambient ground-water assessment (phase 2). The drinking-water assessment will involve compilation, review, and analysis of available water-quality and ancillary data for approximately 20 percent of the community water systems in 12 States in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. This effort will summarize the occurrence and distribution of MTBE and other VOCs in drinking water supplied by 2,110 community water systems. The ambient ground-water assessment will involve compilation, review, and analysis of data on MTBE and other VOCs from previous USGS studies in the 12-State area, including regional water-quality assessments conducted for the USGS's NAWQA, plus other available State or local datasets. These data will be related, to the extent allowed by the completeness and quality of the data, to land-use patterns, population density, and other anthropogenic and natural factors using statistical tests. The occurrence and distribution of MTBE and other VOCs in ambient ground water and, to the extent possible, drinking water in relation to such factors, will be evaluated.


1999, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 99-207, 36 p.

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