Since 1995, a network of municipal wells in Iowa, representing all major aquifer types (alluvial, bedrock/karst region, glacial drift, bedrock/nonkarst region), has been repeatedly sampled for a broad suite of herbicide compounds yielding one of the most comprehensive statewide databases of such compounds currently available in the United States. This dataset is ideal for documenting the insight that herbicide degradates provide to the spatial and temporal distribution of herbicides in ground water. During 2001, 86 municipal wells in Iowa were sampled and analyzed for 21 herbicide parent compounds and 24 herbicide degradates. The frequency of detection increased from 17% when only herbicide parent compounds were considered to 53% when both herbicide parents and degradates were considered. Thus, the transport of herbicide compounds to ground water is substantially underestimated when herbicide degradates are not considered. A significant difference in the results among the major aquifer types was apparent only when both herbicide parent compounds and their degradates were considered. In addition, including herbicide degradates greatly improved the statistical relation to the age of the water being sampled. When herbicide parent compounds are considered, only 40% of the wells lacking a herbicide detection could be explained by the age of the water predating herbicide use. However, when herbicide degradates were also considered, 80% of the ground water samples lacking a detection could be explained by the age of the water predating herbicide use. Finally, a temporal pattern in alachlor concentrations in ground water could only be identified when alachlor degradates were considered.
Additional publication details
Degradates provide insight to spatial and temporal trends of herbicides in ground water