Development and Application of the Nitrogen Isotope Tracer in Evaluating Hydrogeologic Controls on Abatement of Nonpoint Source Pollution From Livestock Confined Feeding Areas and Other Agricultural Operations

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1993

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers nonpoint source pollution to be the largest single category of contamination affecting the nation's waters. Agricultural nonpoint source pollution, which can be a significant component of this overall problem, requires further research to establish and implement best management practices. Improved land-management methods to control nonpoint source pollution must be based on an understanding of the geological and hydrological characteristics of soils, bedrock, and aquifers, as well as the social and economic impacts of recommended or regulated management practices. In particular, determining the source, mobility, and transport paths of contaminants to and within surface-water and groundwater systems is essential in developing prevention and remediation procedures and in formulating management policy for agriculture. In areas of multiple land use practices and nonpoint sources of contaminants, identifying contaminant sources and flow paths, and therefore establishing best management practices, can be exceedingly difficult. One such area is the Western Cross Timbers physiographic province of North-Central Texas, where land uses include crop agriculture, dairy farming, and tree growing. The Western Cross Timbers physiographic province includes Erath County and the drainage basin of the Upper North Bosque River. In 1989, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board designated the Upper North Bosque River watershed as the watershed most severely affected by agricultural nonpoint source pollution (Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research, 1992).

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