Pesticides and nitrate in groundwater underlying citrus croplands, Lake Wales Ridge, central Florida, 1999-2005.

Open-File Report 2013-1271
Prepared in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District



This report summarizes pesticide and nitrate (as nitrogen) results from quarterly sampling of 31 surficial-aquifer wells in the Lake Wales Ridge Monitoring Network during April 1999 through January 2005. The wells, located adjacent to citrus orchards and used for monitoring only, were generally screened (sampled) within 5 to 40 feet of the water table. Of the 44 citrus pesticides and pesticide degradates analyzed, 17 were detected in groundwater samples. Parent pesticides and degradates detected in quarterly groundwater samples, ordered by frequency of detection, included norflurazon, demethyl norflurazon, simazine, diuron, bromacil, aldicarb sulfone, aldicarb sulfoxide, deisopropylatrazine (DIA), imidacloprid, metalaxyl, thiazopyr monoacid, oxamyl, and aldicarb. Reconnaissance sampling of five Network wells yielded detection of four additional pesticide degradates (hydroxysimazine, didealkylatrazine, deisopropylhydroxyatrazine, and hydroxyatrazine). The highest median concentration values per well, based on samples collected during the 1999–2005 period (n=14 to 24 samples per well), included 3.05 µg/L (micrograms per liter) (simazine), 3.90 µg/L (diuron), 6.30 µg/L (aldicarb sulfone), 6.85 µg/L (aldicarb sulfoxide), 22.0 µg/L (demethyl norflurazon), 25.0 µg/ (norflurazon), 89 µg/ (bromacil), and 25.5 mg/L (milligrams per liter) (nitrate). Nitrate concentrations exceeded the 10 mg/L (as nitrogen) drinking water standard in one or more groundwater samples from 28 of the wells, and the median nitrate concentration among these wells was 14 mg/L. Sampled groundwater pesticide concentrations exceeded Florida’s health-guidance benchmarks for aldicarb sulfoxide and aldicarb sulfone (4 wells), the sum of aldicarb and its degradates (6 wells), simazine (2 wells), the sum of simazine and DIA (3 wells), diuron (2 wells), bromacil (1 well), and the sum of norflurazon and demethyl norflurazon (1 well). The magnitude of fluctuations in groundwater pesticide concentrations varied between wells and between pesticide compounds. Of the 10 pesticide compounds detected at sufficient frequency to assess temporal variability in quarterly sampling records, median values of the relative interquartile range (ratio of the interquartile range to the median) among wells typically ranged from about 100 to 150 percent. The relative interquartile range of pesticide concentrations at individual wells could be much higher, sometimes exceeding 200 to 500 percent. No distinct spatial patterns were apparent among median pesticide concentrations in sampled wells; nitrate concentrations tended to be greater in samples from wells in the northern part of the study area.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Pesticides and nitrate in groundwater underlying citrus croplands, Lake Wales Ridge, central Florida, 1999-2005.
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2013-1271
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131271
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Florida Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 28 p.; Appendix
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Lake Wales Ridge