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Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

Date:
February 29, 2008
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Lake Bloomington in central Illinois is a major source of drinking water. It also has a record of elevated nitrate levels, causing residents to be concerned about water quality. A new study measures the sources of nitrate entering Lake Bloomington and documents the producers' practices of applying nitrogen fertilizer in the watershed.

Lake Bloomington is a major source of drinking water for residents of Bloomington, IL, and has a history of nitrate concentrations that exceed safe levels. Because Lake Bloomington has a record of elevated nitrate levels, local residents are concerned over their drinking water quality.

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Kenneth Smiciklas, Associate Professor of Agronomy, Illinois State University, along with a team of colleagues, present an article about the nitrate levels in Central Illinois in the 2008 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.

According to Smiciklas, "Drinking water contaminated with nitrate concentrations exceeding the maximum contaminant level established by the USEPA can cause health effects in humans and animals."

Nitrate-nitrogen is a form of nitrogen that is naturally occurring in most soils. Nitrogen fertilizers added to the soil for crop production can also add to the soil nitrate concentration. If these amounts become extreme, drinking water quality can be affected.

More than 90% of the area in the Lake Bloomington watershed is used for agriculture. The application of nitrate fertilizers (both synthetic and organic) in the growing food crops can result in relatively high levels of nitrate in the surrounding waters. Non-agricultural sources of nitrate can include natural mineralization occurring primarily in the spring due to organic matter breakdown and also from septic emissions.

The main objectives of this study were to measure the sources of nitrate entering Lake Bloomington and to document the practices of producers within the lake area. "We hope the information from our study will help form recommendations on how to manage nitrogen fertilizers in sensitive watershed areas," concludes Smiciklas.

This research was published in Volume 37 of the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education. The article will be available at http://www.jnrlse.org/pdf/2008/E07-0017.pdf until March 28, 2008. After that date it will be archived on the journal website.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Is Your Drinking Water Safe?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228120940.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2008, February 29). Is Your Drinking Water Safe?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228120940.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Is Your Drinking Water Safe?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228120940.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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