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Assessment and Visualization of Controls on Groundwater Transport and Nitrate Contamination

Mikaela Cherry, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Groundwater is an important resource throughout Nebraska. A better understanding different factors that impact groundwater movement and contamination will assist water managers in making management decisions. This dissertation focuses on groundwater seasonality, visually assessing groundwater quality, and groundwater age dating as a way to better inform groundwater management polices. Groundwater seasonality can be used to inform timing of groundwater vulnerability for fertilizer application. On a statewide scale groundwater in Nebraska recharges from non-growing season precipitation, however human intervention such as irrigation can alter this timing. Center pivot irrigation is prevalent throughout Nebraska. The color of these irrigation systems can be used to assess the underlying groundwater chemistry. Areas of rust colored center pivots were found to have lower groundwater nitrate concentrations than non-rust colored center pivots. Groundwater mounds from canal irrigation can be found throughout Nebraska. These mounds are not well understood in terms of groundwater transit time and contaminate movement. Groundwater transit time and recharge rates can indicate if past groundwater management strategies were effective and the movement of groundwater contaminants. The groundwater mound in south-central Nebraska was found to have a higher recharge rate than surrounding groundwater. However, the groundwater originating in the groundwater mound has not yet moved outside of the Tri-Basin NRD.

Subject Area

Hydrologic sciences|Environmental engineering|Geochemistry|Water Resources Management

Recommended Citation

Cherry, Mikaela, "Assessment and Visualization of Controls on Groundwater Transport and Nitrate Contamination" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28865486.