Ok-State Information Service
MANHATTAN — Kansas personal effectively house owners ought to take a look at water high quality yearly, in response to a current Kansas State College examine that exposed nitrate ranges in shallow wells above U.S. Surroundings Safety Act requirements.
“The modifications we measured within the Nice Bend Prairie Aquifer seem like massive relative to modifications noticed in a nationwide examine by the U.S. Geological Survey,” mentioned Matthew Kirk, Kansas State College affiliate professor of geology and the examine’s principal investigator.
The Nice Bend Prairie Aquifer, part of Excessive Plains Aquifer, was the main target of a 40-year comparability examine of rural water wells not too long ago revealed within the Hydrogeology Journal.
Kirk and Alexandria “Allie” Richard Lane, Kansas State College 2018 grasp’s diploma graduate in geology, revealed the examine together with Donald Whittemore, Kansas Geological Survey; Randy Stotler, College of Kansas Division of Geology; and John Hildebrand and Orrin Feril, each with Huge Bend Groundwater Administration District No. 5.
“The Nice Bend Prairie Aquifer may be very weak to contamination and if rural effectively house owners do not know there’s a downside, they clearly cannot do something about it,” Kirk mentioned. “Municipalities are required to check and supply protected ingesting water for metropolis residents however personal rural effectively house owners ought to take duty to check their wells at the least yearly.”
In response to Lane, who now works for the Kansas Division of Well being and Surroundings, there are various kits that may be bought on-line for underneath $40 that take a look at for micro organism, pesticides, lead, copper, iron, nitrate and water hardness in water wells.
“These kits are good to make use of for primary readings and if something is regarding, then residents can ship a pattern to a lab for additional testing,” Lane mentioned. “At KDHE, we attempt to inform personal water effectively communities that it is essential to check their wells yearly.”
Kirk and Lane’s 2016 examine measured water chemistries and in contrast them with 1970s measurements on the similar websites. Twenty of 21 wells had will increase of nitrate concentrations, or NO3-, in comparison with the 1970s samples. Seven wells exceeded the nitrate concentrations allowed by the EPA commonplace for ingesting water. Within the 1970s examine, solely one of many wells was above the present EPA commonplace.
“There hasn’t been as a lot work on water high quality as water amount within the Excessive Plains Aquifer,” Kirk mentioned. “Groundwater storage within the Nice Bend Prairie Aquifer is comparatively steady, but when the water is there and the standard degrades, that is additionally unhealthy.”
In response to Kirk, excessive nitrate ranges in ingesting water could cause human and livestock well being points by interfering with transport of oxygen by blood and probably inflicting the next danger of most cancers. An excessive amount of nitrate in groundwater may also stimulate a launch of uranium and selenium from the sediment into the water.
Whereas water amount could also be a high concern for a lot of rural areas presently, Kirk mentioned water high quality points might quickly rise to the highest of the record of rural water issues.
“Different components of the Excessive Plains Aquifer are almost certainly going to see modifications too nevertheless it’s simply taking it longer to indicate up due to transport time between the floor and the water desk,” Kirk mentioned. “That transport time is pretty fast within the examine space because the soil is sandy and the water desk is nearer to the floor.”
As well as, the aquifer and sandy soil should not superb residing environments for the microbes that assist clear the water by consuming nitrate.
“Groundwater within the Nice Bend Prairie Aquifer typically has oxygen and the place that’s the case, microorganisms sometimes respire the oxygen as an alternative of nitrate,” Kirk mentioned.
In response to the examine outcomes, the wells with the very best contamination have been these in fields used for crops, and the isotopic proof — like a chemical signature — present that the nitrate within the aquifer is from fertilizer.
Kirk mentioned that fertilizers assist farmers enhance crop yields however extra fertilizer can contaminate water provides.
“I do not know what the long run seems like or how we steadiness these points — rising meals for the world and sustaining well being of pure sources to develop that meals — however we have to discover methods to decelerate nitrate accumulation and higher handle nitrate into the long run,” Kirk mentioned.
Kirk advocates for precision agriculture to use fertilizer and planting cowl crops — which use extra nitrate within the soil when planted in between the harvest of 1 meals crop and the planting of the following.
Kirk mentioned these two practices assist scale back runoff of extra fertilizer and have gotten extra widespread with irrigated agriculture within the area. He additionally mentioned that extra research are wanted to guage if the drastic enhance between the 2 time intervals of the examine is leveling off or if it has simply ramped up lately.
“We want extra knowledge concerning the seasonal variation in nitrate ranges and a number of years of knowledge to essentially perceive the pattern of the rise,” Kirk mentioned. “We additionally hope to pattern further wells to guage change over extra of the aquifer. We wished to doc this discovering and attempt to unfold the phrase as a result of, on the finish within the day, it is a huge enhance of nitrate and will have an effect on folks’s well being.”
Help for the examine was supplied by a graduate scholar analysis grant from the Geological Society of America, the Kansas State College Division of Geology and the Nationwide Science Basis.