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Water Quality In Georgia-Florida Coastal Plain Affected By Agricultural And Urban Activities

Water quality is generally good in the Georgia-Florida Coastal Plain but has been adversely affected by agricultural and urban land uses in some areas, according to the results of a five-year investigation by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study area encompasses 62,000 square mile area in southern and central Georgia and northern and central Florida, and is one of 20 study areas nationwide which have recently been investigated for water quality as part of a comprehensive U.S. Geological Survey program.

The study found that:

  • Nitrate concentrations are generally high in water from shallow wells, among the highest of any in the 20 studies nationwide. In a row-crop agricultural study area, nitrate concentrations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) drinking-water standard in 33% of ground-water samples from shallow wells. However, Marian Berndt, a USGS Hydrologist and principal author of the report, said that "nearby streams were not high in nitrate, suggesting that the high concentrations in shallow wells were localized occurrences. Also, the major public water supply, which comes from deep wells within the Upper Floridan aquifer, was not high in nitrate."

  • Phosphorus concentrations exceeded the USEPA guideline for the prevention of nuisance algal growth in 30% of stream samples.

  • Pesticide concentrations in streams and ground water did not exceed USEPA drinking-water standards.

  • The most frequently detected pesticides in ground water and streams were the herbicides-atrazine, metolachlor, and prometon. They were most frequently detected in agricultural and urban areas.

  • Concentrations of the insecticide diazinon exceeded guidelines for protection of aquatic life in streams in about 20 percent of samples from an urban stream. Insecticides were not detected in ground water, and they (particularly diazinon
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Contact: Marian Berndt
mberndt@usgs.gov
(850) 942-9500
United States Geological Survey
27-Apr-1998


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