Nonpoint-source agricultural chemicals in ground water in Nebraska; preliminary results for six areas of the High Plains Aquifer

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4338




The reconnaissance phase of a study to determine the occurrence of agricultural chemicals from nonpoint sources in groundwater in six areas, which represented the major provinces of the High Plains aquifer in Nebraska is described. In 1984, water from 82 wells in the 6 study areas was analyzed for nitrate, and water from 57 of the 82 wells was analyzed for triazine herbicides. Data for 9 of the 21 independent variables suspected of affecting concentrations of nitrate and triazine herbicides in groundwater were compiled from the 82 well sites. The variables and their ranges are: hydraulic gradient (XI), 0.006-0.0053; hydraulic conductivity (X2), 5-149 ft/day; specific discharge (X3), 0.0128-0.2998 ft/day; depth to water (X4), 3-239 ft; well depth (X5), 40-550 ft; annual precipitation (X6), 12.0-39.3 inches; soil permeability (X7), 0.76-9.0 inches; irrigation well density (X8), 0-8 irrigation wells/ sq mi; and annual nitrogen fertilizer use (X9), 0-260 lbs of nitrogen/acre. Nitrate concentrations ranged from < 0.1 to 45 mg/L as nitrogen. Triazine herbicide concentrations were detected in samples from five of the six study areas in concentrations ranging from < 0.1 to 2.3 mg/L. Statistical tests indicated that there were significant differences in nitrate concentrations among the six study areas, while no significant differences in triazine herbicide concentrations were found. Concentrations of nitrate and triazine herbicide were significantly larger in more intensively irrigated areas. Preliminary correlations with the independent variables and nitrate concentrations indicated significant relations at the 95% confidence level with variables X2, X5, and X8. Correlations with triazine herbicide concentrations indicated significant relations with variables X2 , X3, X5, X6, and X8, and with nitrate concentrations (X10). By using a simple multiple regression technique, variables X5, X8, and X9 explained about 51% of the variation in nitrate concentrations. Variables X3 and X5 explained about 60% of the variation in triazine herbicide concentrations. Adding nitrate concentration as an independent variable, two variables, X10 and X3, explained 84% of the total variation in triazine herbicide concentrations. (Author 's abstract)

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Nonpoint-source agricultural chemicals in ground water in Nebraska; preliminary results for six areas of the High Plains Aquifer
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
vi, 68 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.