Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3077

National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program

Sustainability of Natural Attenuation of Nitrate in Agricultural Aquifers

By Christopher T. Green and Barbara A. Bekins

Introduction

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.7 MB)

Increased concentrations of nitrate in groundwater in agricultural areas, coinciding with increased use of chemical and organic fertilizers, have raised concern because of risks to environmental and human health. At some sites, these problems are mitigated by natural attenuation of nitrate as a result of microbially mediated reactions. Results from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research under the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program show that reactions of dissolved nitrate with solid aquifer minerals and organic carbon help lower nitrate concentrations in groundwater beneath agricultural fields. However, increased fluxes of nitrate cause ongoing depletion of the finite pool of solid reactants. Consumption of the solid reactants diminishes the capacity of the aquifer to remove nitrate, calling into question the long-term sustainability of these natural attenuation processes.

  • This report is also available in print from:

    USGS Information Services, Box 25286,
    Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225
    telephone: 888 ASK-USGS; e-mail: infoservices@usgs.gov

For additional information:
Contact Information, National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program
U.S. Geological Survey
913 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.


Suggested citation:

Green, Christopher T., and Bekins, Barbara A., 2010, Sustainability of natural attenuation of nitrate in agricultural aquifers: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3077, 4 p.




Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http:// pubs.usgs.gov /fs/2010/3077/index.html
Page Contact Information: USGS Publications Team
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 09-Jan-2013 19:18:01 EST