Trends in nitrate concentrations in water from 474 wells in 17 subregions in the Columbia Basin Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) in three counties in eastern Washington were evaluated using a variety of statistical techniques, including the Friedman test and the Kendall test. The Kendall test was modified from its typical 'seasonal' version into a 'regional' version by using well locations in place of seasons. No statistically significant trends in nitrate concentrations were identified in samples from wells in the GWMA, the three counties, or the 17 subregions from 1998 to 2002 when all data were included in the analysis. For wells in which nitrate concentrations were greater than 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L), however, a significant downward trend of -0.4 mg/L per year was observed between 1998 and 2002 for the GWMA as a whole, as well as for Adams County (-0.35 mg/L per year) and for Franklin County (-0.46 mg/L per year). Trend analysis for a smaller but longer-term 51-well dataset in Franklin County found a statistically significant upward trend in nitrate concentrations of 0.1 mg/L per year between 1986 and 2003. The largest increase of nitrate concentrations occurred between 1986 and 1991. No statistically significant differences were observed in this dataset between 1998 and 2003 indicating that the increase in nitrate concentrations has leveled off.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluating regional trends in ground-water nitrate concentrations of the Columbia Basin ground water management area, Washington