The quality of shallow ground water in a 75-mi2 agricultural area of the Anoka Sand Plain aquifer in central Minnesota is described as part of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program - a national-scale assessment of the quality of water resources within large study units in various hydrologic settings. Data were collected during 1998 from 29 wells completed in the aquifer, which predominantly consists of surficial glacial sand and gravel sediments. The depth below land surface to the water table ranged from 3.3 to 44 ft (median of 15.5 ft). Ground water was of the calciummagnesium bicarbonate type. Ionic constituents also included sodium, sulfate, and chloride. Iron and manganese concentrations generally were not greater than their U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (300 and 50 ug/L, respectively). About 38 percent of 29 samples had nitrate-N (nitrogen) concentrations greater than the USEPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 mg/L. About 72 percent of the samples had nitrate-N concentrations greater than the presumed natural background level of 3 mg/L. The maximum nitrate-N concentration was 47 mg/L. The median nitrate-N concentration of 7.1 mg/L, although not greater than the MCL, exceeded the natural background level. Nitrogen isotope ratios indicate that the sources of nitrate were commercial fertilizer and soil organic matter. Concentrations of total dissolved phosphorus and orthophosphate were generally less than 1 mg/L. About 86 percent of 29 samples had detectable concentrations of at least 1 of 13 pesticide compounds. The samples were analyzed for 83 pesticide compounds. Frequencies of detection of these compounds were: deethylatrazine-79 percent; atrazine-76 percent; metolachlor-41 percent; metribuzin and bentazon-21 percent; prometon-10 percent; tebuthiuron-7 percent; and alachlor, 2,6-diethylaniline, dicamba, dinoseb, malathion, and simazine-3 percent. The detected pesticide compounds had concentrations less than 1 ug/L. Detected compounds with USEPA MCLs (atrazine, bentazon, alachlor, dinoseb, and simazine) had concentrations less than their respective MCLs. About 50 percent of 20 samples analyzed for 86 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had detectable concentrations of at least 1 of 7 VOCs. Frequencies of detection of these 7 VOCs were: 1,2,3,4-tetramethylbenzene-40 percent; and trichlorofluoromethane, styrene, chloromethane, benzene, methylbenzene, and trichloromethane-5 percent. The detected VOCs had concentrations less than 0.120 ug/L. Detected VOCs with USEPA MCLs - styrene, benzene, methylbenzene, and trichloromethane - were present at concentrations 2-4 orders of magnitude less than their respective MCLs. Tritium concentrations had a range of from 7.5 to 18.8 tritium units (TUs) and a median of 12.5 TUs. These concentrations indicate that the ground water predominantly recharged after testing of thermonuclear weapons during the early 1950's.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water-Quality Assessment of Part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin, Minnesota and Wisconsin - Ground-Water Quality in an Agricultural Area of Sherburne County, Minnesota, 1998