NPS pollution analysis in groundwater and streams of rural watersheds in western and southeastern Pampas, Argentina
Non-point source water pollution is a key question in rural watersheds and it needs to be studied in order to prevent damages to ground and surface water quality. The main goal of this study is to analyze nutrient and chemical loads in groundwater and streams in Pampa region, Argentina. For studying groundwater loads, a set of 19 observation wells were installed in 2011, in western Buenos Aires. The wells were located at three landscape positions (upper, middle and lower hill) in seven agricultural fields and groundwater samples were monthly collected. As for surface water, two watersheds located in southeastern Buenos Aires, were chosen: Napaleofu creek Watershed (34.000 hectares) and Quequen Grande River watershed (938.000 hectares). Daily water samples were taken from the main stream from October 2011 to May 2013, at both watersheds. Water Samples collected from wells and streams, were analyzed to determine N, and chemical loads. A group of 11 herbicides and one insecticide frequently used by farmers in the watershed were chosen for the study. Nitrogen and chemical concentrations were analyzed considering rainfall events and also compared to critical limits. Preliminary results are presented from a subset of samples since remaining samples are currently being processed in laboratory. As for NO3-N concentration, most of wells presented variable concentration depending on monthly precipitation and landscape position. Considering 10 mg/L NO3-N as a standard limit, 52% of the observations exceed this value mostly related to unusual precipitations events at winter 2012. Nitrate-Nconcentration in streamflow at Quequen Grande River and Napaleofu creek were on average 5 ppm. NPS Pollution modeling is a second goal of this on-going research. SWAT validation results are also presented for one of the watersheds under study.