805 Dorsey Street
P.O. Box 826
Beatrice, Nebraska 68310
402/228-3402
FAX: 402/223-4441

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GROUNDWATER QUALITY MONITORING

The Lower Big Blue NRD continues to monitor the quality of the districtís groundwater. Residents of the district are more concerned with potential water quality problems than in the past. The quality of their drinking water, especially the levels of nitrate-nitrogen in the water, has the attention of many people in the district. People want to know the level of nitrate-nitrogen in their drinking water, where it is coming from, and what they can do to protect and improve the quality of their water.

The NRD completed its seventeenth year of monitoring groundwater across the district in the summer of 2004, with two hundred-ninety irrigation wells sampled. The average nitrate-nitrogen content in these wells was 7.24 mg/l. In Gage county, ninety-nine wells were sampled that had an average nitrate content of 12.31 mg/l. One hundred eleven wells sampled in Saline county averaged 6.27 mg/l. In Jefferson county, eighty wells averaged 2.30 mg/l. The range of nitrate-nitrogen levels vary greatly, with the highest level of 154 mg/l, to levels that are undetectable.

Monitoring of nitrate-nitrogen levels in groundwater to determine overall water quality in the district began in 1987. Irrigation wells across the district are sampled for nitrate-nitrogen content. Results of the monitoring show that a vast majority of the NRD has good quality water. One area of concern is the 60 square mile Phase II area northwest of Beatrice.

Sources of nitrate-nitrogen entering the groundwater include the point sources of leaching from septic tanks and feedlots. Non-point sources can be leaching of nitrogen fertilizers and manure applications.