Nitrate Variability in Groundwater of North Carolina using
Monitoring and Private Well Data Models

Messier, K.P., Kane, E., Bolich, R.,&Serre, M.L. (2014). Nitrate variability in groundwater
of North Carolina using monitoring and private well data models. Environmental Science
& Technology, 48(18), 10804-10812.


Nitrate (NO3−) is a widespread contaminant of groundwater and surface water across the United States that has deleterious effects to human and ecological health. This study
develops a model for predicting point-level groundwater NO3− at a
state scale for monitoring wells and private wells of North Carolina. A land use regression (LUR) model selection procedure is developed for determining nonlinear model explanatory variables when they are known to be correlated. Bayesian Maximum Entropy
(BME) is used to integrate the LUR model to create a LUR-BME model of spatial/temporal varying groundwater NO3− concentrations. LUR-BME results in a leave-one-out cross-validation r2 of 0.74 and 0.33 for monitoring and private wells, effectively predicting
within spatial covariance ranges. Results show significant differences in the spatial distribution of groundwater NO3− contamination in monitoring versus private wells; high NO3− concentrations in the southeastern plains of North Carolina; and wastewater treatment residuals and swine confined animal feeding operations as local sources of NO3− in monitoring wells. Results are of interest to agencies that regulate drinking water sources or monitor health outcomes from ingestion of drinking water. Lastly, LUR-BME model estimates can be integrated into surface water models for more accurate management of nonpoint sources of nitrogen.


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