• The Use of Chemical Hydrographs in Groundwater Quality Studies

      Schmidt, Kenneth D.; Harshbarger and Associates, Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      High nitrates in drinking water are significant in relation to an infant disease, methemoglobinemia, and the U.S. public health service has set a limit of 45 ppm for human consumption. This paper illustrates how chemical hydrographs were used in a study of nitrates in the groundwater of the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area (F.C.M.A.) of semiarid central California. The area comprises about 145 square miles, with a population of 310,000. Urban water use is entirely derived from wells, whereas the surrounding agriculture relies on surface and ground water. In 1965, the California department of water resources noted nitrate concentrations in the F.C.M.A. were exceeding the safe limit. A number of sources of error in chemical analyses of water quality are noted. A measure of the accuracies of analyses and a method of double-checking anomalous results is furnished by plotting chemical hydrographs of individual wells. Seasonal changes in nitrate were consistent for many parts of the area, and were related to hydrogeologic factors and parameters directly affecting nitrification. Nitrate hydrographs were monitored by chloride hydrographs. The highest nitrate concentrations were in the shallower parts of the aquifer, and well deepening and changes in water level, pumping patterns and recharge rates complicated interpretations. However, the hydrographs helped to pinpoint the source of nitrate in areas where several possible sources were present.