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  • Washington Nitrate Prioritization Project

    May 2016 Publication No. 16-10-011

  • Publication and contact information This report is available on the Department of Ecology’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1610011.html The Activity Tracker Code for this study is 14-020. Author and contact information Laurie Morgan, Licensed Hydrogeologist, Water Quality Program Washington State Department of Ecology Water Quality Program PO Box 47600 Olympia, WA 98504 7600 This plan was prepared by a licensed hydrogeologist. A signed and stamped copy of the report is available upon request. For more information contact: phone 360-407-6600. Washington State Department of Ecology - www.ecy.wa.gov/ • Headquarters, Olympia 360-407-6000 • Northwest Regional Office, Bellevue 425-649-7000 • Southwest Regional Office, Olympia 360-407-6300 • Central Regional Office, Yakima 509-575-2490 • Eastern Regional Office, Spokane 509-329-3400 Any use of product or firm names in this publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the author or the Department of Ecology.

    To request ADA accommodation including materials in a format for the visually impaired, call Water Quality Program at Ecology, 360-407-6600. Persons with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711. Persons with speech disability may call TTY 877-833-6341.

    https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1610011.html http://www.ecy.wa.gov/

  • Washington Nitrate Prioritization Project

    by

    Laurie Morgan Licensed Hydrogeologist

    Water Quality Program Washington State Department of Ecology

    Olympia, Washington 98504-7600

  • This page is purposely left blank

  • Washington Nitrate Prioritization Project Page iii

    Table of Contents Page

    List of Figures and Tables....................................................................................................v

    Abstract ............................................................................................................................. vii

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ ix

    Introduction ..........................................................................................................................1

    Background ..........................................................................................................................3 Washington uses groundwater for drinking water .........................................................3 Nitrate contamination is bad for public health ...............................................................6 Nitrate contamination is very expensive for water systems ...........................................7 How nitrate gets into groundwater .................................................................................7 Why some wells are high in nitrate while others in the same area are not ....................8

    Previous Studies ...................................................................................................................9

    Methods..............................................................................................................................11 Groundwater nitrate concentrations .............................................................................11

    Statewide nitrate data .............................................................................................13 WDOH nitrate data ................................................................................................14 USGS nitrate data ..................................................................................................14 Ecology nitrate data ...............................................................................................15 Data Processing ......................................................................................................15 Nitrate sampling data limitations ...........................................................................19 Graphs of nitrate data .............................................................................................20

    USGS groundwater nitrate risk grids ...........................................................................21 Frans Nitrate Probability Grid ...............................................................................22 Nolan Nitrate Prediction Grid ................................................................................24 Limitations .............................................................................................................26

    NRCS soil maps ...........................................................................................................26 Soil Drainage Class ................................................................................................27 Water travel time through the entire soil profile ....................................................29

    Landuse as an indicator of nitrate loading ...................................................................30 Irrigation and precipitation ..........................................................................................31 Surficial geology/hydrogeology ...................................................................................33

    USGS Principal Aquifers of the Pacific Northwest ...............................................34 Unconsolidated Deposits of Washington State ......................................................34 USGS Hydrogeology of the Puget Sound Lowlands .............................................35 USGS Puget Sound Aquifer Recharge ..................................................................36 Sole Source Aquifers .............................................................................................37 Local hydrogeologic studies ..................................................................................38

    How Nitrate Priority Areas were determined ..............................................................39 How Nitrate Priority Areas were categorized ..............................................................41

    Results ................................................................................................................................43 Draft Nitrate Priority Area candidates .........................................................................43

  • Washington Nitrate Prioritization Project Page iv

    Columbia Basin – Grant and Franklin Counties ....................................................43 Eastern Washington Dryland Areas .......................................................................44 Benton County and Walla Walla County ...............................................................44 Yakima County and Kittitas County ......................................................................44 North Central Washington – Okanogan County and Chelan County ....................44 Northwestern Washington Puget Sound Lowlands ...............................................45 Southwestern Washington Puget Sound Lowlands ...............................................45 Southwestern Washington .....................................................................................45

    Discussion ..........................................................................................................................47

    Conclusions ........................................................................................................................49

    Recommendations ..............................................................................................................51 Data management.........................................................................................................51 Prioritization ................................................................................................................52 Nitrate source loading ..................................................................................................52 Hydrogeology information development .....................................................................53 Groundwater nutrient impact on surface water ............................................................53

    References ..........................................................................................................................55

    Appendices .........................................................................................................................59 Appendix A. Selected costs for public water supply systems due to nitrate contamination of groundwater .....................................................................................61 Appendix B: Nitrate Priority Area Candidate Inventory Table ..................................63 Appendix C: Top ten nitrate priority area candidates by count of wells with historical nitrate maximum greater than or equal to 10 mg/L as N .............................77 Appendix D: Example data record ..............................................................................79 Appendix E: Statewide Atlas ......................................................................................81 Appendix F...................................................................................................................91 Glossary, A

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