Nitrate behavior in ground waters of the southeastern USA

Journal of Environmental Quality


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Principal components analysis (PCA) was performed with water-quality data from studies conducted during 1993 to 1995 to explore potential nitrate- attenuation processes in ground waters of the southeastern USA. Nitrate reduction is an important attenuation process in selected areas of the Southeast. A nitrate-reduction component explains 23% of the total variance in the data and indicates that nitrate and dissolved oxygen (DO) are inversely related to ammonium, iron, manganese, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Additional components extracted by PCA include calcite dissolution (18% of variance explained) and phosphate dissolution (9% of variance explained). Reducing conditions in ground waters of the region influence nitrate behavior through bacterially mediated reduction in the presence of organic matter, and by inhibition of nitrate formation in anoxic ground water beneath forested areas. Component scores are consistent with observed water- quality conditions in the region. For example, median nitrate concentration in ground-water samples from the Albemarle-Pamlico Drainage Basin (ALBE) Coastal Plain is <0.05 mg L-1, median DOC concentration is 4.2 mg L-1, and median DO concentration is 2.1 mg L-1, consistent with denitrification. Nitrate reduction does not occur uniformly throughout the Southeast. Median DO concentrations in ground-water samples from the Apalachicola- Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACFB) are 6.2 to 7.1 mg L-1, and median nitrate concentrations are 0.61 to 2.2 mg L-1, inconsistent with denitrification. Similarly, median DO concentration in samples from the Georgia-Florida Coastal Plain (GAFL) is 6.0 mg L-1 and median nitrate concentration is 5.8 mg L-1.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Nitrate behavior in ground waters of the southeastern USA
Series title Journal of Environmental Quality
Volume 28
Issue 5
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher American Soc of Agronomy Inc
Publisher location Madison, WI, United States
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Environmental Quality
First page 1518
Last page 1527
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