The occurrence of pesticides and nitrate (nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen) in surficial sand and gravel aquifers in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin was summarized as part of an analysis of historical water-quality data for the Upper Mississippi River Basin study unit of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Water samples were collected by State and Federal agencies for pesticides (366) and nitrate (410) between 1971 and 1994 from wells completed in surficial sand and gravel aquifers. State agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin have developed models to determine areas where ground water is susceptible to contamination based on geologic and hydrologic conditions (Schmidt, 1987, and Porcher, 1989). Water-quality data is evaluated with respect to the ground-water susceptibility models. The results also are evaluated with respect to overlying land use and land cover. Samples from wells with detectable levels of one or more pesticides or nitrate concentrations exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) generally coincided with areas of high contamination susceptibility. Furthermore, samples from wells located in areas of high contamination susceptibility had pesticide detection frequencies and nitrate concentrations that correlated to overlying land use and land cover. Samples from wells located in high susceptibility areas that were surrounded by cropland had greater pesticide detection frequencies and greater nitrate concentrations than wells located in similar susceptibility areas but surrounded by different land use and land cover types such as forest, urban, and wetlands.
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USGS Numbered Series
Pesticides and Nitrate in Surficial Sand and Gravel Aquifers as Related to Modeled Contamination Susceptibility in Part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin