Groundwater Quality and Nutrient Trends near Marsing, Southwestern Idaho

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In cooperation with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, we sampled groundwater from 15 wells during spring 2018 near the city of Marsing in rural northwestern Owyhee County, southwestern Idaho. Samples were analyzed for field parameters, nutrients, trace elements, major inorganics, and dissolved gas, including methane. To examine trends in individual wells and in the region, ammonia and nitrate results from the spring 2018 sampling were compared with data collected from 1996 to 2015 by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

Fourteen of the 15 samples collected in 2018 contained arsenic (0.13–33.8 micrograms per liter [µg/L]), with 7 arsenic concentrations greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 µg/L. Iron (465–4,180 µg/L), manganese (54–693 µg/L), sulfate (300–624 milligrams per liter [mg/L]), and total dissolved solids (511–1,350 mg/L) were detected at concentrations greater than EPA secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCL) in waterquality samples from 6, 10, 4, and 14 of the 15 wells, respectively. Fourteen of the 15 samples contained ammonia concentrations from 0.12 to 7.34 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Six samples contained nitrate concentrations from 0.08 to 24.6 mg/L, with one sample greater than the EPA MCL of 10 mg/L for drinking water. The presence of both ammonia and nitrate in four samples indicated multiple nutrient and groundwater sources and varying redox states. Ammonia concentrations tended to increase downgradient throughout the study area.