• Groundwater Contamination in the Cortaro Area, Pima County, Arizona

      Schmidt, Kenneth D.; Harshbarger and Associates, Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1972-05-06)
      High concentrations of nitrate have been found in water samples from irrigation wells north of the Tucson Arizona sewage treatment plant. The plant, which had primary treatment prior to 1951, produced 2,800 acre-feet of effluent in 1940, 4,600 acre-feet in 1950, 16,300 acre-feet in 1960, and 33,000 acre-feet in 1970. Large amounts of treated effluent recharge the groundwater system north of the plant. Sources of nitrate contamination beside sewage effluent may be sewage lagoons, sanitary landfills, meat packing and dairy effluent, septic tanks, and agricultural runoff. Sewage effluent is considered to be the primary source of nitrate contamination in the area. Geologic and flow net analysis indicate that aquifer conditions minimize the effects of sewage effluent contamination. Chloride and nitrate migration appears to be similar in the aquifer. Large-capacity wells were sampled to reflect regional conditions, and chemical hydrographs of chloride and nitrate were analyzed. The seasonal nature of these hydrographs patterns depend on total nitrogen in sewage effluent. Management alternatives are suggested to decrease nitrate pollution by sewage effluent.
    • Nitrogen Species Transformations of Sewage Effluent Releases in a Desert Stream Channel

      Sebenik, P. G.; Cluff, C. B.; DeCook, K. J.; Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1972-05-06)
      A preliminary study was made with the objective of examining nitrogen species transformations of treated sewage effluent releases within the channel of an ephemeral stream, the Santa Cruz River of southern Arizona. Water quality samples were taken at established locations in sequence so that peak daily flows could be traced as the effluent moved downstream. Results indicate that increased nitrification, coinciding with changing stream characteristics, starts in the vicinity of Cortaro Road (6.3 river miles from the Tucson Sewage Treatment Plant discharge). Through physical-chemical changes in streamflow, nitrate -nitrogen values reach a maximum at approximately 90-95 percent and 60-80 percent of total flow distance for low flows and high flows, respectively. Concentrations of ammonia-nitrogen and total nitrogen decrease continuously downstream with both high and low flows. Therefore, the rate of nitrification within sewage effluent releases in a desert stream channel evidently is related to flow distance and physical characteristics of the stream.