Widespread Nitrate Contamination Reported
March 14, 2012 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
DAVIS, Calif. (UPI) — Though nitrate contamination in groundwater from agriculture was seen in high levels in California, it’s a national problem, a scientific group said.
The University of California, Davis, in a report ordered by the state government, said the root cause of groundwater contamination from nitrates was agriculture use.
The report concluded that nitrate concentrations in public drinking water exceeded state contaminant levels. High levels of nitrate in groundwater have been tied to reproductive issues, thyroid illness and several types of cancer.
Noel Gurwick, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said though the study focused on California, nitrate pollution is a widespread issue.
“A national problem of this magnitude warrants a national solution,” he said in a statement.
U.S. lawmakers, he said, could push legislation calling for better use of cover crops and more complex crop rotation practices that would improve soil health and curb nitrogen pollution.
The Cal-Davis report said nitrate problems are likely to get worse for several decades as most of the pollutants found in drinking water wells were applied to agricultural tracts many years ago. The report recommends using a fee on nitrogen fertilizer use to mitigate remediation expenses.