Quantifying Trends in Arsenic, Nitrate, and Dissolved Solids from Selected Wells in Utah

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5047
Prepared in Cooperation with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality
By:

Links

Abstract

Groundwater makes up a primary portion of the water supply in many parts of Utah, with annual withdrawals estimated at more than 1,000,000 acre-feet per year. Increases to groundwater withdrawal and land use may negatively impact water availability. Ensuring availability of clean water requires understanding how water quality has changed over time and how natural and human activities and processes influence water quality. Changes in arsenic, nitrate, and dissolved-solids concentrations in the groundwater in basins with high groundwater withdrawals were evaluated between 1975 and 2015 as indicators of basinwide water quality and the suitability of water for drinking. Data were used from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System (NWIS) database and the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) maintained by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water. Mann-Kendall trend tests were used to assess temporal trends in decadal and 5-year (sub-decadal) median analyte concentrations in basins. Trends also were assessed in smaller parts of larger basins to focus on changes occurring at a smaller spatial scale. To evaluate the relationship between land-use change and water-quality changes, trends also were evaluated for wells where land use has changed. Trends in decadal and sub-decadal median arsenic, nitrate, and dissolved-solids concentrations over time were identified throughout the basins and sub-basins in this study. For combined NWIS and SDWIS data, rates of median arsenic concentration change in basins and sub-basins ranged between decreases of –0.24 microgram per liter (μg/L) per year and increases of 0.48 μg/L per year. Rates of median nitrate-concentration change ranged between decreases of –0.08 milligram per liter (mg/L) per year and increases of 0.02 mg/L per year. Rates of median dissolved solids concentration change ranged between decreases of –5 mg/L per year and increases of 7 mg/L per year. The rates of change for nitrate and dissolved solids were similar to or less than rates of change observed in other parts of the country. Trends were not directly related to land-use change approximal to a well, although more data from wells where land use has changed would improve this evaluation. These findings highlight that water quality at a well is related to a range of factors including land, demographics, and water use over a larger area surrounding and up-gradient from the well; rates and direction of groundwater movement; and geologic and hydrologic conditions.

Suggested Citation

Miller, O.L., 2020, Quantifying trends in arsenic, nitrate, and dissolved solids from selected wells in Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5047, 80 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205047.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results: Identification and Quantification of Groundwater-Quality Trends
  • Summary
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Quantifying trends in arsenic, nitrate, and dissolved solids from selected wells in Utah
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5047
DOI 10.3133/sir20205047
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Utah Water Science Center
Description viii, 80 p.
Country United States
State Utah
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page