EPA Presents Webcast on Nitrogen in Groundwater

March 22, 2011
Seminar will cover emerging concerns for private well and public drinking water supplies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a webcast titled "Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Series: Nitrate in Ground Water" on March 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. The webcast will highlight an emerging issue of increased nitrate loading to groundwater, a growing national concern. According to EPA’s most recent data, public water systems using groundwater as a drinking source serve millions of people nationwide. The total number of people drinking groundwater increases when factoring in households supplied by private drinking water wells. Groundwater can become contaminated by nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous leaching from the land surface into the groundwater supply.

In a September 2010 report, “Nutrients in the Nation’s Streams and Groundwater,” the U.S. Geological Survey monitored and documented nitrate levels above 10 mg/L, which is the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations through the Safe Drinking Water Act, in more than 20% of shallow household wells in agricultural areas. Additionally, from 1998 to 2008, the number of nitrate violations recorded at public water systems around the country has nearly doubled. Surface sources of drinking water are also at risk. For example, storm water runoff can carry nutrients directly to rivers, lakes and reservoirs, some of which are used as drinking water supplies. Capital costs to remove nitrates from public water systems or to provide alternative water supplies for individual households can be high, with some communities spending millions of dollars.

The webcast will provide a national overview of the nitrate in groundwater issue and highlight a case study in Oregon’s Southern Willamette Valley. This webcast is the second in a series of Watershed Academy Webcasts on the impacts of nutrients on water resources.

Participants are encouraged to download the presentation, which will be posted prior to the webcast. For more information on the webcast, including the presentation, information on speakers and to register, visit www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts.

Source: U.S. EPA

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