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Continuous nitrate monitoring in groundwater and potential contribution to surface-water nitrogen loads in Mason County, Illinois

February 4, 2020

Illinois has some of the most productive farmland in the country. The use of fertilizers to improve crop production has increased, which has resulted in an increase in the concentration of nitrogen in many streams and aquifers. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, is continuously monitoring (one reading every 15 minutes) the concentration of nitrate plus nitrite, as nitrogen, in a groundwater well and assessing the potential contribution to surface-water nitrogen loads. Continuous monitoring of the nitrate concentration allows for the collection of a larger dataset in comparison to periodic or event-based sampling. This fact sheet describes the data collection methods, describes the overall experimental design, and displays data collected for the study. The analysis of continuous data improves understanding of the fate and transport of nitrate.