Ground-water recharge to a shallow, unconfined, fractured dolomite aquifer underlying agricultural land in Lancaster County, Pennyslvania occurs by two mechanisms. Direct recharge occurs through pathways such as near-surface bedrock fractures and sinkholes, and affects dissolved nitrate concentration of ground water within two to three days; its effects last only about one week. Gradual recharge occurs through small channels and pores in the unsaturated zone and affects dissolved nitrate concentration for several weeks or more after the effects of direct recharge have dissipated. Whether recharge causes an increase or decrease in dissolved nitrate concentration depends on the amount of nitrogen-rich manure spread on the site prior to the storm. Direct recharge from a storm in March 1984, a month in which 18 tons of manure were spread, resulted in a rapid decrease in dissolved nitrate concentration of about 2.5 milligrams per liter (mg/l) as nitrogen. Direct recharge from a storm in May 1984, after 384 tons of manure had been spread in April, resulted in a rapid increase in dissolved nitrate concentration of about 3 mg/l as nitrogen. Concentration changes caused by gradual recharge several weeks or more after the storms were of the same magnitude as those caused by direct recharge during the storm. -Author
Additional publication details
Ground-water recharge and its effects on nitrate concentration beneath a manured field site in Pennsylvania.