Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2022_NE_Mittelstet

Using a Coupled Surface Water/Groundwater Model Informed by Groundwater Age, Geophysics, and Vadose Zone Coring to Identify Type and Placement of Management Practices to Reduce Legacy Groundwater Nitrate Concentrations

Institute: Nebraska
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2022 Start Date: 2023-01-01 End Date: 2025-12-31
Total Federal Funds: $249,977 Total Non-Federal Funds: $249,989

Principal Investigators: Aaron Mittelstet

Abstract: Average nitrate concentrations in the Bazile Creek watershed exceed the 10 mg L-1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Families that consume groundwater from their domestic well are at risk and water treatment costs are high for public water supply. The high nitrate is attributed to the leaching of nitrate through the sandy soil down to the groundwater. The nitrate originates mostly from commercial fertilizer for corn production and cow manure. Identifying the most effective management practices to implement and their location within the watershed is important to improve both groundwater and surface water quality. We propose creating and applying a coupled surface water/groundwater model to simulate various management practices under future climate change scenarios so we can identify which practices should be implemented. Modeling results, coupled with the nitrate transport rates through the soil and aquifer, will aid us in identifying the optimal locations to implement the management practices.