Nutrients and pesticides in ground water of the Ozark Plateaus in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4313



A total of 229 ground-water samples were collected from 215 sites as part of the Ozark Plateaus study unit of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. These samples were collected from 1993 through 1995 using a network of springs and wells with three scale-dependent components. The first component, the study-unit survey, consisted of 99 randomly selected springs and domestic wells in the Springfield Plateau and Ozark aquifers. The second component, two land-use studies, consisted of 42 springs and domestic wells in a poultry-dominated agricultural area and 40 springs and domestic wells in a cattle-dominated agricultural area overlying the Springfield Plateau aquifer. The third component, the small-watershed study, consisted of 4 springs, 18 domestic wells, and 11 monitoring wells in a small basin within the poultry land-use study area. Samples were analyzed for major ions, nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, methylene blue active substances, tritium, and 88 pesticides and metabolites.The water-quality data from these samples were analyzed with descriptive and statistical methods. Nitrite plus nitrate, which was detected more often and in greater concentrations than any of the other nutrients, ranged from less than 0.05 to 25 milligrams per liter as nitrogen. Nitrite plus nitrate concentrations positively correlated to percent agricultural land use around each site. Median nitrite plus nitrate concentrations generally were greater in samples from springs than in samples from wells. Concentrations of nitrite, ammonia, and ammonia plus organic nitrogen were also affected by land use and also by concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the ground water. Concentrations of phosphorus and orthophosphate probably were affected by land use and also by phosphorus solubility. Pesticides were detected in 80 of 229 samples from 73 of 215 sites. A total of 20 pesticides were detected with a maximum of 5 pesticides detected in any 1 sample. The most commonly detected pesticides were tebuthiuron, atrazine, prometon, desethylatrazine, and simazine. Maximum concentrations ranged from 0.003 to 1.0 microgram per liter. The occurrence and distribution of pesticides were related to land use. Percent agricultural land use was greater for samples with pesticides detected than for samples with no pesticides detected. Pesticides were detected more often in samples from springs than in samples from wells. The occurrence of pesticides also was related to seasonality and chemical characteristics, such as solubility and persistence, of the compounds.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Nutrients and pesticides in ground water of the Ozark Plateaus in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 96-4313
DOI 10.3133/wri964313
Edition -
Year Published 1997
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
Description 34 p.