USGS - science for a changing world

National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program

 Go to:      NAWQA Home

Predicting the Probability of Elevated Nitrate Concentrations in the Puget Sound Basin: Implications for Aquifer Susceptibility and Vulnerability

by Anthony J. Tesoriero and Frank D. Voss

[Ground Water, v. 35, no. 6, November-December 1997, p. 1029-1039.]

The occurrence and distribution of elevated nitrate concentrations (greater than or equal to 3 mg/l) in ground water in the Puget Sound Basin, Washington, were determined by examining existing data from more than 3000 wells. Models that estimate the probability that a well has an elevated nitrate concentration were constructed by relating the occurrence of elevated nitrate concentrations to both natural and anthropogenic variables using logistic regression. The variables that best explain the occurrence of elevated nitrate concentrations were depth, surficial geology, and the percentage of urban and agricultural land within a radius of 3.2 kilometers of the well. From these relations, logistic regression models were developed to assess aquifer susceptibility (relative ease with which contaminants will reach aquifer) and ground-water vulnerability (relative ease with which contaminants will reach aquifer for a given set of land-use practices). Both models performed well at predicting the probability of elevated nitrate concentrations in an independent data set. This approach to assessing aquifer susceptibility and ground-water vulnerability has the advantages of having both model variables and coefficient values determined on the basis of existing water quality information and does not depend on the assignment of variables and weighting factors based on qualitative criteria.

Table of Contents
Regional hydrology
Data analysis and discussion
Single variable models
Multiple variable models
Summary and conclusions

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Mar-2014 14:44:59 EST