Draft Federal regulations may require that each State develop a State Pesticide Management Plan for the herbicides atrazine, alachlor, cyanazine, metolachlor, and simazine. This study developed maps that the Idaho State Department of Agriculture might use to predict the probability of detecting atrazine and desethyl-atrazine (a breakdown product of atrazine) in ground water in the Idaho part of the upper Snake River Basin. These maps can be incorporated in the State Pesticide Management Plan and help provide a sound hydrogeologic basis for atrazine management in the study area. Maps showing the probability of detecting atrazine/desethyl-atrazine in ground water were developed as follows: (1) Ground-water monitoring data were overlaid with hydrogeologic and anthropogenic data using a geographic information system to produce a data set in which each well had corresponding data on atrazine use, depth to ground water, geology, land use, precipitation, soils, and well depth. These data then were downloaded to a statistical software package for analysis by logistic regression. (2) Individual (univariate) relations between atrazine/desethyl-atrazine in ground water and atrazine use, depth to ground water, geology, land use, precipitation, soils, and well depth data were evaluated to identify those independent variables significantly related to atrazine/ desethyl-atrazine detections. (3) Several preliminary multivariate models with various combinations of independent variables were constructed. (4) The multivariate models which best predicted the presence of atrazine/desethyl-atrazine in ground water were selected. (5) The multivariate models were entered into the geographic information system and the probability maps were constructed. Two models which best predicted the presence of atrazine/desethyl-atrazine in ground water were selected; one with and one without atrazine use. Correlations of the predicted probabilities of atrazine/desethyl-atrazine in ground water with the percent of actual detections were good; r-squared values were 0.91 and 0.96, respectively. Models were verified using a second set of groundwater quality data. Verification showed that wells with water containing atrazine/desethyl-atrazine had significantly higher probability ratings than wells with water containing no atrazine/desethylatrazine (p <0.002). Logistic regression also was used to develop a preliminary model to predict the probability of nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen concentrations greater than background levels of 2 milligrams per liter. A direct comparison between the atrazine/ desethyl-atrazine and nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen probability maps was possible because the same ground-water monitoring, hydrogeologic, and anthropogenic data were used to develop both maps. Land use, precipitation, soil hydrologic group, and well depth were significantly related with atrazine/desethyl-atrazine detections. Depth to water, land use, and soil drainage were signifi- cantly related with elevated nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen concentrations. The differences between atrazine/desethyl-atrazine and nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen relations were attributed to differences in chemical behavior of these compounds in the environment and possibly to differences in the extent of use and rates of their application.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Probability of detecting atrazine/desethyl-atrazine and elevated concentrations of nitrate (NO2+NO3-N) in ground water in the Idaho part of the upper Snake River basin