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Open-File Report 95-468

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A Computerized Data Base of Nitrate Concentrations in Indiana Ground Water

By Martin R. Risch and David A. Cohen

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As part of a cooperative study with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the U.S. Geological Survey compiled a computerized data base of nitrate concentrations in Indiana ground water. The data included nitrate determinations from more than 29 studies by five Federal and State agencies during June 1973 through August 1991. The National Water Information System software of the U.S. Geological Survey was used to store the data on a mini-computer at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Indianapolis, Indiana. Electronic data sets were converted to a standard format of well data, sample data, and analytical data. Data were screened by several error-checking procedures before they were retained in the data base. Because the potential existed for a site to be included more than once when overlapping data sets were combined, the data base also was examined for potential duplicates on the basis of well location and name.

The data base of nitrate concentrations in Indiana ground water contains records of 5,525 samples collected from 4,448 wells in 88 of 92 counties during 1973–91. Those wells included 3,832 drinking-water wells; 536 monitoring wells, 38 livestock-supply wells; and 42 irrigation wells. Nitrate concentrations greater than minimum reporting limits of 0.0 to 0.5 milligrams per liter (mg/L) were determined in 2,453 samples (44 percent of the total). Nitrate in ground water at concentrations greater than 3 mg/L have been considered to be the result of human activities. Nitrate concentrations ranged from 0.005 to 380 mg/L with a median nitrate concentration of 0.3 mg/L. Nitrate concentrations were greater than or equal to 3 mg/L in 704 samples (13 percent of the total). Nitrate concentrations were greater than or equal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level of 10 mg/L in 188 samples (3.4 percent of the total). Of the 3,832 drinking-water wells in the data base, 147 had at least one sample in which a nitrate concentration was greater than the Maximum Contaminant Level. The percentage of samples with nitrate concentrations greater than or equal to 3 mg/L and greater than or equal to 10 mg/L generally increased during the period 1973 through 1991.

The nitrate data base was compiled from numerous data sets that were readily accessible in electronic format. The uses of these data may be limited because they were neither comprehensive nor of a single statistical design. Nonetheless, the nitrate data can be used in several ways: (1) to identify geographic areas with and without nitrate data; (2) to evaluate assumptions, models, and maps of ground-water-contamination potential; and (3) to investigate the relation between environmental factors, land-use types, and the occurrence of nitrate.

Posted August 2009

For additional information contact:
Director, Indiana Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
5957 Lakeside Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46278-1996

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Suggested citation:

Risch, M.R., and Cohen, D.A., 1995, A computerized data base of nitrate concentrations in Indiana ground water: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 95-468, 22 p.

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