Nitrogen Chemistry in the Upper Floridan Aquifer in Wells on the Ichauway Ecological Reserve, Newton, Georgia
Jenkins, Joanna C.
Hicks, David W.
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Between May 2001 and May 2002, water chemistry was measured in groundwater at four well sites on the Ichauway Ecological Reserve. Water samples were collected weekly from the wells and analyzed in the Jones Ecological Research Center analytical laboratory for a suite of inorganic constituents. Well 1 was the only well that regularly contained measurable levels of ammonium-N that ranged from 0 to 21mg/l. Well 1 was also found to have elevated levels of nitrate-N that were about 2-4-fold higher than at the other well sites. Well 2 showed an increase in nitrate-N during the period of study while well 3 showed a decrease. In addition, chloride concentrations were found to be higher in well 1 than the other wells. Overall, ambient water chemistry reflects a portion of the Upper Floridan Aquifer that is minimally impacted by human activities. Wells 2-4 have near historic background concentrations of nitrate-N, and are relatively unaffected by nitrate-N contamination. However, levels of nitrate-N in well 1 are above historic background values suggesting some impact of human activities on nitrogen chemistry in this portion of the aquifer. Further studies are needed to determine the source(s) of elevated nitrates (intensive livestock production, widespread application of nitrogen fertilizers, or wetland depressions), and whether relatively pristine portions of the Upper Floridan aquifer, such as those found underneath the Ichauway Ecological Reserve, will experience higher levels of contamination in the future.