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Natural processes for managing nitrate in ground water discharged to Chesapeake Bay and other surface waters: More than forest buffers

Fact Sheet 178-97

Prepared in cooperation with the Counties of Accomack and Northampton, and the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission
By:
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Abstract

Ground-water discharge is a significant source of nitrate load to tidal creeks, coastal estuaries, and Chesapeake Bay. Different studies have found that forest buffers greater than 200 feet wide remove most of the nitrate from passing ground water. These buffers are commonly included in regional nutrient-management strategies. Results of a U.S. Geological Survey study on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, however, indicate that the presence of forest buffers alone may not significantly decrease nitrate load in ground-water discharge. The effectiveness of forest buffers largely depends on the composition of local soils and ground-water flow paths. Study results also indicate that large amounts of nitrate are removed from ground water by the natural process of denitrification, which may occur independently of the presence or absence of forest buffers. The results of this study indicate that in addition to the presence of forest buffers, a range of other natural factors, such as soil texture and organic matter content and ground-water flow paths, affect the fate of nitrate in ground water. These factors are important to include along with forest buffers in developing comprehensive nutrient-management strategies.

Suggested Citation

Speiran, G.K., Hamilton, P.A., and Woodside, M.D., 1998, Natural processes for managing nitrate in ground water discharged to Chesapeake Bay and other surface waters: More than forest buffers: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 1997–0178, 6 p., https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs17897.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Natural processes for managing nitrate in ground water discharged to Chesapeake Bay and other surface waters: More than forest buffers
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
178-97
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Virginia Water Science Center
Description:
6 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N