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Nitrate pollution and its distribution in the groundwater of Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh, India


The complex depositional pattern of clay and sand in most of the areas controlled the vertical and lateral movement of nitrate in groundwater. The variation of nitrate concentration at different groundwater levels and the lateral distribution of nitrate in the groundwater at two sites indicated the filtration of nitrate by clayey formations. A rural agricultural district located in the Vamsadhara river basin, India was selected for studying the lateral and vertical distribution of nitrate in the groundwater and the association of nitrate with other chemical constituents. The nitrate concentrations in the groundwater are observed to vary between below detectable limit and 450 mg NO3/L. The sources for nitrate are mainly point sources (poultry farms, cattleshed and leakages from septic tanks) and non-point sources (nitrogenous fertilisers). The nitrate concentrations are increased after fertiliser applications. However, very high concentrations of nitrate are derived from animal wastes. Relatively better correlations between nitrate and potassium are observed (R = 0.74 to 0.82). The better relationship between these two chemical constituents in the groundwater may be due to the release of potassium and nitrate from both point and non-point sources. The nitrate and potassium concentrations are high in the groundwater from clayey formations.

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The work was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi under the Young Scientist Scheme (HR/SY/A-07/97). The financial support from DST for carrying out this study is gratefully acknowledged. The author is also grateful to Dr. B.K. Handa, Supdt. Chemist (Retired), Water Research Centre, Chandigarh for his valuable suggestions for initiating the present work.

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Correspondence to Nagireddi Srinivasa Rao.

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Rao, N.S. Nitrate pollution and its distribution in the groundwater of Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environ Geol 51, 631–645 (2006).

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  • Nitrate
  • Potassium
  • Groundwater
  • Clay membrane
  • Point source
  • India