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Nutrient Management (NM)

Nitrogen and Groundwater

Groundwater Quality: Nutrient Criteria for Nitrogen (N)

US EPA requires states and authorized tribes to develop and publish water quality standards that protect the nation’s waters from over-enrichment associated with human activities. EPA will publish nutrient criteria benchmarks and regions and states will develop their nutrient standards in consideration of the national criteria. A main concern for groundwater protection is nitrate-nitrogen, which can leach through the soil profile into underground aquifers. Currently, the criterion for nitrate-nitrogen is 10 mg/L for domestic water supplies. Although protection of groundwater is crucial, EPA regulations focus mainly on surface waters. As groundwater is used often as rural drinking water, regulations relating to well water quality would apply.

Educational Resources

EPA Nutrient Criteria Fact Sheet

US EPA Nutrient Water Quality Criteria

EPA Summary Table for the Nutrient Criteria Documents

Nutrient Stream Study

Extension Publications

Scientific Review Articles

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National Water Program

A cooperative program consisting of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and the Land Grant Colleges and Universities.

- a Regionally-Based National Network -

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- This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2008-51130-19526.

Photograph by Tom Schultz, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University

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