USGS Washington Water Science Center
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Ground water is a significant source of drinking water in Washington State, and keeping it free of contamination is important for public health. Public supply wells are frequently tested for nitrate concentrations, but private wells are tested only when they are drilled. This limits information about the potential exposure to elevated nitrate concentrations in private wells.
To help the Washington State Department of Health estimate nitrate concentrations in drinking water from private wells, the USGS is developing a tool that is based on statistical analyses of previous nitrate measurements and their relation to well characteristics, such as depth, location, and surrounding land use. The USGS is using several data bases in the analyses to determine which well characteristics best predict nitrate concentrations.