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Seven sets of ground water samples from 103 observation wells were analyzed for total dissolved phosphorus (TDP) in four areas and five materials including loess and loess derived alluvium in the Deep Loess Hills of western Iowa, outwash and fractured till adjacent to Clear Lake in north central Iowa, fractured till in central Iowa, and a sand and gravel aquifer in northwest Iowa. Land use in ground water recharge zones in all four areas is dominated by crop or animal production or both. Concentrations of TDP exceeding the minimum laboratory detection limit of 20 ??g/l as P were found in all areas and in all materials sampled. Samples from the outwash deposits associated with Clear Lake contained significantly larger concentrations than all other areas and materials with a median of 160 ??g/l. Water from fractured till in three areas produced the smallest range of concentrations with a median of 40 ??g/l. The mean value of TDP in all sample sets exceeded 50 ??g/l, an important ecological threshold that causes increased productivity in lakes and perennial streams and one being considered as a surface water nutrient standard by regulatory agencies. These results clearly show that ground water in essentially all near-surface aquifers and aquitards discharging to Iowa's streams and lakes is capable of sustaining P concentrations of 50 to 100 ??g/l in streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Consequently, even if point discharges and sediment sources of P are substantially reduced, ground-water discharge to surface water may exceed critical thresholds under most conditions.
Additional Publication Details
Occurrence of total dissolved phosphorus in unconsolidated aquifers and aquitards in Iowa
Journal of the American Water Resources Association