Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

George Furniss

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Science

Abstract

Using a watershed approach to study nonpoint source pollution over six-years in the Bitterroot Valley, we at Bitterroot College, have identified two wells with dangerous nitrate levels and a consistent loading of 8 pounds per day emerging as spring water from the aquifer beneath Hamilton. Water quality assessments of nutrients and pesticides nationwide show that nonpoint source pollution often leads to impairment of surface water fisheries and drinking water. Excess nitrogen causes eutrophication in the Bitterroot River. Nitrate levels in drinking water above 10 parts per million are potentially dangerous to newborn infants. Nitrate is converted to nitrite in the digestive tract, which reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood that can cause death. To prevent economic damage to our fishery (worth more than $30 million annually) and to protect human health we are launching a community awareness project. We propose more nitrate assessment of nonpoint source pollution in valley wells and from spring flows down-gradient of Hamilton in 2020. We’ll create a community educational flyer by comparing results from all six years of study reporting our analysis to UMCUR. All of our water samples are collected in March each year (2015-2020) using standardized methodology. Ten percent of our samples are duplicates and blanks for quality assurance and quality control. All of our water samples are analyzed by Energy Labs Inc., a professional environmental water quality laboratory. Nitrate (NO3) and nitrite (NO2) background levels in natural groundwater systems should be less than 1 ppm (U.S. Geological Survey). Nonpoint source pollution in our valley originates from scattered surface locations that percolate into groundwater, which can emerge in the river. The nitrate pollution comes from excess fertilizers, pastures, streets, faulty septic systems, and leaking sewers, all sources that can include pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

Category

Physical Sciences

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Nonpoint Source Nitrate Pollution in Groundwater of Bitterroot Valley, Montana

Using a watershed approach to study nonpoint source pollution over six-years in the Bitterroot Valley, we at Bitterroot College, have identified two wells with dangerous nitrate levels and a consistent loading of 8 pounds per day emerging as spring water from the aquifer beneath Hamilton. Water quality assessments of nutrients and pesticides nationwide show that nonpoint source pollution often leads to impairment of surface water fisheries and drinking water. Excess nitrogen causes eutrophication in the Bitterroot River. Nitrate levels in drinking water above 10 parts per million are potentially dangerous to newborn infants. Nitrate is converted to nitrite in the digestive tract, which reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood that can cause death. To prevent economic damage to our fishery (worth more than $30 million annually) and to protect human health we are launching a community awareness project. We propose more nitrate assessment of nonpoint source pollution in valley wells and from spring flows down-gradient of Hamilton in 2020. We’ll create a community educational flyer by comparing results from all six years of study reporting our analysis to UMCUR. All of our water samples are collected in March each year (2015-2020) using standardized methodology. Ten percent of our samples are duplicates and blanks for quality assurance and quality control. All of our water samples are analyzed by Energy Labs Inc., a professional environmental water quality laboratory. Nitrate (NO3) and nitrite (NO2) background levels in natural groundwater systems should be less than 1 ppm (U.S. Geological Survey). Nonpoint source pollution in our valley originates from scattered surface locations that percolate into groundwater, which can emerge in the river. The nitrate pollution comes from excess fertilizers, pastures, streets, faulty septic systems, and leaking sewers, all sources that can include pharmaceuticals and pesticides.