Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2022_WI_Hart

Forecasting the impact of climate and nitrate loading changes on nitrate contamination in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin: a tool for local governments

Institute: Wisconsin
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2022 Start Date: 2022-12-01 End Date: 2024-11-30
Total Federal Funds: $170,208 Total Non-Federal Funds: $172,601

Principal Investigators: David J. Hart, Paul F. Juckem

Abstract: High nitrate levels in groundwater pose a significant risk to human health, but also impact stream and lake water quality by promoting algal blooms that harm aquatic life. Areas near agricultural fields, with sandy soils and shallow groundwater, such as those in central Wisconsin, are highly vulnerable to nitrate leaching. As a result, nitrate contamination is currently widespread. These nitrate levels will vary in response to future changes in land use and climate, predicted as an increase precipitation and the number of larger rain events. We propose to create a tool based on mathematical models that will simulate nitrate concentrations for the next 30 years. By providing predicted long-term outcomes, e.g contour maps of nitrate concentrations in groundwater, this tool will allow local governments and stakeholders to evaluate the benefits of land-use decisions such as reducing nitrogen fertilizer applications and time frames needed to see the outcomes of those decisions.