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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


Nonpoint-Source Ground-Water Contamination in Relation to Land Use

Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Study

The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Study concentrated on the effect of urban, suburban, and industrial land use on the occurrence of volatile organic compounds, selected pesticides, metals, and nutrients in ground water and surface water. In addition, the study tried to correlate and predict the distribution and movement of contaminants in ground water and surface water in relation to the patterns of land use.

Forerunner Nonpoint-Source Ground-Water Contamination Studies

In 1984, under the auspices of the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, an investigation was initiated to study nonpoint-source ground-water contamination. The objectives of the investigation were to study the relationship of land use activities to ground-water quality and to test the transferability of these relationships to other areas. The following areas were selected for study:

  • Gulf Coastal Plain, Louisiana and Mississippi
  • Long Island, New York
  • Philadelphia area, Pennsylvania
  • Potomac-Raritan-Magothy outcrop area, New Jersey
  • Houston area, Texas
  • Floridan Aquifer, Florida
  • Edwards Aquifer, Texas
  • Combined Regolith, North Carolina
  • San Joaquin Valley, California
  • Arkansas River Valley, Colorado
  • Albuquerque-Belen Basin, New Mexico
  • High Plains Aquifer, Kansas
  • High Plains Aquifer, Nebraska
  • Connecticut River Valley, Connecticut

These areas covered a variety of hydrogeologic settings, climates, and land use types; volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and trace metals were the principal contaminants of concern. Seven of these studies ( New York, New Jersey, Florida, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Connecticut) were selected for more intensive evaluations. These studies used statistical methods to identify relations between ground-water contamination and land use.

An outgrowth of the New York and the New Jersey studies was a study of nonpoint-source contamination in the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Study continued the development of statistical methods that try to correlate and predict ground water contamination to land use patterns.

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