Ambient Groundwater Monitoring
The maintenance of a baseline description of groundwater quality is an
essential element of any statewide comprehensive groundwater protection
program. In recent years, concern for the quality of our environment and
drinking water has increased as we learn that many states in the country
have experienced groundwater contamination from a variety of point and nonpoint sources of pollution.
In North Dakota, a large portion of the potable groundwater resource
underlies agricultural areas. Prior to the inception of the
Groundwater Monitoring Program in 1992, only limited data was available to
assess the impact of agricultural chemicals on the state's groundwater
quality. The goal of the Groundwater Monitoring Program is to provide an
assessment of the quality of North Dakota's groundwater resources with
regard to agricultural chemical contamination.
Several glacial drift aquifers have been monitored each year of the
program since 1992. Approximately, the 50 most vulnerable aquifers
are included in the program. This priority ranking was determined
through application of the North Dakota Geographic Targeting System. The monitoring conducted in 1996 marked
completion of the first five-year round of monitoring high priority
glacial drift aquifers in the state. The second five-year round of
monitoring began in 1997, during which time the aquifers sampled five
years earlier in 1992 were resampled.
Conducting the monitoring on five-year cycles, preferably using most of
the same wells for sampling, will provide a temporal assessment of
agricultural chemical occurrence in specific aquifers.