In 1993, the U.S. Geological Survey and the North Platte Natural Resources District began a 3-year study to determine the geohydrology and water quality of the North Platte River alluvial aquifer near Oshkosh, Garden County, Nebraska. The objectives of the study were to determine the geohydrologic properties of the North Platte River alluvial aquifer, to establish a well network for long- term monitoring of concentrations of agricultural chemicals including nitrate and herbicides, and to establish baseline concentrations of major ions in the ground water. To meet these objectives, monitor wells were installed at 11 sites near Oshkosh. The geohydrologic properties of the aquifer were estimated from water-level measurements at selected irrigation wells located in the study area and short- term constant-discharge aquifer tests at two monitor wells. Water samples were collected bimonthly and analyzed for specific conductance, pH, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients including dissolved nitrate. Samples were collected semiannually for analysis of major ions, and annually for triazine and acetamide herbicides. Evaluation of the aquifer-test data indicates the hydraulic conductivities of the North Platte River alluvial aquifer range between 169 and 184 feet per day and transmissivities ranged from 12,700 to 26,700 feet-squared per day. The average specific yield for the alluvial aquifer, based on the two aquifer tests, was 0.2. Additional hydrologic data for the alluvial aquifer include a horizontal gradient of about 0.002 foot per foot and estimated ground- water flow velocities of about 0.1 to 1.8 feet per day. Evaluation of the water-quality data indicates that nitrate concentrations exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Maximum Contamination Level of 10 milligrams per liter for drinking water in areas to the east and west of Oshkosh. In these areas, nitrate concentrations generally are continuing to rise. West of Oshkosh the highest concentrations are now exceeding 50 milligrams per liter. With the exception of one sample, nitrate concentrations exceeding the Maximum Contamination Level were not detected in three wells used to monitor the ground water flowing into and out of the study area, nor in a monitor well located near a municipal well. Results of the study also indicate that an influx of water from Lost Creek Valley, north of the study area, may be mixing with ground water near Oshkosh and diluting concentrations of nitrate.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Reconnaissance of surface-water quality in the North Platte Natural Resources District, western Nebraska, 1993
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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