The Source of Arsenic and Nitrate in Borrego Valley Groundwater Aquifer


Groundwater in California is very precious, yet what we can withdraw is often contaminated with natural and anthropogenic pollution sources. We have examined the Borrego Valley (BV) groundwater (N = 6 wells) in southern California to understand the source of arsenic and nitrate in some of its groundwater production wells. The results show that the arsenic values range from <2 ppb to 12.2 ppb and the nitrate values from <1 ppm to 10.2 ppm for different wells respectively. The results showed that the arsenic concentration increased 270% for the well # ID1-10 since 2004 and showed an increase of 63% since 2013 respectively. For other wells the results showed an increase of 147% and 72% since 2001. The nitrate concentration has jumped 42% in concentration since last year in one of the wells. The objective of this study is to understand the nature and source of arsenic and nitrate in BV groundwater aquifer as to how this change in arsenic and nitrate concentration occurs through the time. The arsenic retention in the sediments is highly variable and controlled by local processes as a result of natural weathering process of metamorphic bedrock. The second results from the development of strongly reducing conditions at near-neutral pH values, leading to the desorption of arsenic from mineral oxides and to the reductive dissolution of Fe and Mn oxides, also leading to arsenic release. The high arsenic concentrations in some groundwater wells in Borrego Valley CA require the need for reconnaissance surveys in mineralized areas of fractured crystalline basement. Net groundwater extraction values are based on an irrigation efficiency of 78 percent with 14 to 22 percent irrigation return. We believe that the return flow from irrigational activity could be one of the major sources of nitrate transferring the agricultural contaminants such as nitrate to Borrego Valley aquifer.

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Rezaie-Boroon, M. , Chaney, J. and Bowers, B. (2014) The Source of Arsenic and Nitrate in Borrego Valley Groundwater Aquifer. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1589-1602. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.617145.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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