The Occurrence of Agricultural Chemicals in Illinois' Rural Private Wells: Results from the Pilot Study

E. Mehnert, S. C. Schock, M. L. Earnhardt, M. E. Caughey, S. F.J. Chou, W. S. Dey, G. B. Dreher, C. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Water samples from 240 private wells in rural Illinois were collected over one year and analyzed for 39 agricultural chemicals. Sampling was conducted to provide preliminary information to refine a plan for a statewide survey of the agricultural chemical contamination of rural private wells. Wells were sampled according to a stratified random sampling plan that included four classes of depth lo the uppermost aquifer material and two classes of well type. Depth lo uppermost aquifer material was defined as the depth from ground surface to a geologic material that, if saturated, could he used as an aquifer. Occurrence, defined as the presence of one or more target analytes in a well water sample above some specified concentration, was shown to be higher in large‐diameter bored or dug wells than in small‐diameter drilled wells. For small‐diameter wells, occurrence generally decreased as the depth to the uppermost aquifer material increased, In addition, depth to the uppermost aquifer material could be used to predict the occurrence of some individual agricultural chemicals, such as nitrate and atrazine, but could not be used to predict the occurrence of pielorarn or pesticides in small‐diameter wells. Of the 39 target analytes, 10 were detected at concentrations exceeding their respective minimum reporting levels. Nitrate and atrazine were the only compounds found at concentrations exceeding their respective maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) or U.S. EPA lifetime health advisory limits (HAI.s). A nonparametric statistical technique, contingency table analysis, identified factors associated with the occurrence of agricultural chemicals in three of the file study areas. Elevated specific conductance (>500 μmhos/cm) of the sampled water was strongly associated with the occurrence of agricultural chemicals. This association was common to all three study areas analyzed. Identification of the source of the specific conductance could help identify the dominant pathway for transport of agricultural chemicals to ground water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalGroundwater Monitoring & Remediation
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology

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    Mehnert, E., Schock, S. C., Earnhardt, M. L., Caughey, M. E., Chou, S. F. J., Dey, W. S., Dreher, G. B., & Ray, C. (1995). The Occurrence of Agricultural Chemicals in Illinois' Rural Private Wells: Results from the Pilot Study. Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation, 15(1), 142-149. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6592.1995.tb00512.x