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Fact Sheet 2007–3088

Prepared as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program

Relations of Water Quality to Agricultural Chemical Use and Environmental Setting at Various Scales—Results from Selected Studies of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program

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In 1991, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began studies of 51 major river basins and aquifers across the United States as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program to provide scientifically sound information for managing the Nation’s water resources. The major goals of the NAWQA Program are to assess the status and long-term trends of the Nation’s surface- and ground-water quality and to understand the natural and human factors that affect it (Gilliom and others, 1995).

In 2001, the NAWQA Program began a second decade of intensive water-quality assessments. The 42 study units for this second decade were selected to represent a wide range of important hydrologic environments and potential contaminant sources. These NAWQA studies continue to address the goals of the first decade of the assessments to determine how water-quality conditions are changing over time. In addition to local- and regional-scale studies, NAWQA began to analyze and synthesize water-quality status and trends at the principal aquifer and major river-basin scales.

This fact sheet summarizes results from four NAWQA studies that relate water quality to agricultural chemical use and environmental setting at these various scales:
  • Comparison of ground-water quality in northern and southern High Plains agricultural settings (principal aquifer scale);
  • Distribution patterns of pesticides and degradates in rain (local scale);
  • Occurrence of pesticides in shallow ground water underlying four agricultural areas (local and regional scales); and
  • Trends in nutrients and sediment over time in the Missouri River and its tributaries (major river-basin scale).

Version 1.0

Posted November 2008

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Nebraska Water Science Center
5231 South 19th Street
Lincoln, NE 68512-1271
Phone: (402) 328–4100
Fax: (402) 328-4101

Or visit the Nebraska Water Science Center Web site at:

Part or all of 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:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Relations of water quality to agricultural chemical use and environmental setting at various scales—Results from selected studies of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2007–3088, 6 p.

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