Hydrogeologic and Aquifer Protection Study of Hatfield, Massachusetts

Kessler, S. Dara
Department of Environmental Studies
This study delineates the groundwater resources and recharge characteristics of Hatfield, Massachusetts, a rural town located on the western banks of the Connecticut River and the eastern slopes of the Berkshire foothills. The two principal hydrogeologic types in Hatfield are crystalline bedrock formations exposed in the hilly areas of town and the Sugarloaf Arkose in the Connecticut River Valley, and unconsolidated sediments consist of glacial till, glacial outwash, and alluvium. Glacial outwash and alluvium, because of their high permeabilities, offer the greatest potential as a source for groundwater development, except where highly fractured. However, the Sugarloaf Arkose has been found to recharge and transmit relatively large quantities of water, compared to other bedrock formations of New England. The Omasta, Whately’s 6-inch, and Running Gutter Brook wells are the major groundwater-fed sources that occur in the project area. All of these sources are producing from sand and gravel deposits confined beneath glacial Lake Hitchcock varved clays. In an effort to understand the hydrogeologic interconnection between these sources and their respective recharge areas, I conducted geochemical tests of water samples from the three wells, and springs and streams in the potential Primary Recharge areas of these wells. I collected and analyzed water samples in June, July, and August 1990 at approximately one month intervals. Analyses of these data, indicate that Running Gutter brook Well is producing from a separate (or nearly separate source), than are the Omasta and Whately wells, which are producing from the same source. Analyses of springs sampled in deltaic deposits to the west of the Omasta and Whately wells, indicate that there is a hydrogeologic connection between these deltaic deposits and the production wells. An aquifer protection strategy is presented with recommendations including the following: (1) purchase of land in critical recharge areas, (2) protection of water courses that recharge aquifer systems, (3) Inter-Town Aquifer Committee consisting of representatives from Hatfield, Whately, Northhampton, Williamsburg and Conway, and (4) protection from septic tanks, road salts, toxic and hazardous waste.