UA-led Team Studying Nitrate in Urban Areas

The presence of nitrates in drinking water is a pervasive concern in semi-arid and arid regions in Arizona, much of California, the Midwest region and large areas in the South despite government regulations. Part of what is driving the problem is that water managers and urban planners in certain regions prone to nitrate contamination don't always have adequate information about sources of nitrates and ways to control or manage the chemical's presence.

Kathleen A. Lohse, an assistant professor in the UA's School of Natural Resources and the Environment, is heading up a collaborative project to offer up answers. The team, which includes collaborators from Arizona State University and Purdue University has just received a three-year, $875,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, with UA's portion totaling more than $325,000.

The project, "Collaborative Research: Impacts of Urbanization on Nitrogen Biogeochemistry in Xeric Ecosystems," is meant to identify sources of nitrate contamination in both surface water in urban regions of Arizona while involving citizen-scientists, graduate and undergraduate students and also decision makers.

The team will investigate the presence of nitrates in Tucson and Phoenix and also provide answers to aid water managers and urban planners. "Nitrate contamination is one of the most common contaminates in our Arizona aquifers and it's a large concern in a lot of areas in semi-arid regions," said Lohse, the lead principal investigator on the project.

Contact name: 
Kathleen A. Lohse
Contact email:
Released date: 
Dec 23 2009