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Open-File Report 2013–1271

Prepared in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District

Pesticides and Nitrate in Groundwater Underlying Citrus Croplands, Lake Wales Ridge, Central Florida, 1999–2005

By A.F. Choquette

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.44 MB)Abstract

This report summarizes pesticide and nitrate (as nitrogen) results from quarterly sampling of 31 surficial-aquifer wells in the Lake Wales Ridge Monitoring Network during April 1999 through January 2005. The wells, located adjacent to citrus orchards and used for monitoring only, were generally screened (sampled) within 5 to 40 feet of the water table. Of the 44 citrus pesticides and pesticide degradates analyzed, 17 were detected in groundwater samples. Parent pesticides and degradates detected in quarterly groundwater samples, ordered by frequency of detection, included norflurazon, demethyl norflurazon, simazine, diuron, bromacil, aldicarb sulfone, aldicarb sulfoxide, deisopropylatrazine (DIA), imidacloprid, metalaxyl, thiazopyr monoacid, oxamyl, and aldicarb. Reconnaissance sampling of five Network wells yielded detection of four additional pesticide degradates (hydroxysimazine, didealkylatrazine, deisopropylhydroxyatrazine, and hydroxyatrazine). The highest median concentration values per well, based on samples collected during the 1999–2005 period (n=14 to 24 samples per well), included 3.05 µg/L (micrograms per liter) (simazine), 3.90 µg/L (diuron), 6.30 µg/L (aldicarb sulfone), 6.85 µg/L (aldicarb sulfoxide), 22.0 µg/L (demethyl norflurazon), 25.0 µg/ (norflurazon), 89 µg/ (bromacil), and 25.5 mg/L (milligrams per liter) (nitrate). Nitrate concentrations exceeded the 10 mg/L (as nitrogen) drinking water standard in one or more groundwater samples from 28 of the wells, and the median nitrate concentration among these wells was 14 mg/L. Sampled groundwater pesticide concentrations exceeded Florida’s health-guidance benchmarks for aldicarb sulfoxide and aldicarb sulfone (4 wells), the sum of aldicarb and its degradates (6 wells), simazine (2 wells), the sum of simazine and DIA (3 wells), diuron (2 wells), bromacil (1 well), and the sum of norflurazon and demethyl norflurazon (1 well). The magnitude of fluctuations in groundwater pesticide concentrations varied between wells and between pesticide compounds. Of the 10 pesticide compounds detected at sufficient frequency to assess temporal variability in quarterly sampling records, median values of the relative interquartile range (ratio of the interquartile range to the median) among wells typically ranged from about 100 to 150 percent. The relative interquartile range of pesticide concentrations at individual wells could be much higher, sometimes exceeding 200 to 500 percent. No distinct spatial patterns were apparent among median pesticide concentrations in sampled wells; nitrate concentrations tended to be greater in samples from wells in the northern part of the study area.

First posted January 16, 2014

  • Appendix 1 XLS (56.2 KB)
    This is an electronic copy of Appendix 1 that contains summary statistics by well for nitrate and detected pesticide concentrations for groundwater samples collected from April 1999 through January 2005.

For additional information, contact:
Director, Florida Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
4446 Pet Lane, Suite 108
Lutz, FL 33559

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Suggested citation:

Choquette, A.F., 2014, Pesticides and nitrate in groundwater underlying citrus croplands, Lake Wales Ridge, central Florida, 1999–2005: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1271, 28 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)




Methods of Study

Water-Quality Results



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