Nitrate, Arsenic and Selenium Concentrations in The Pecos Valley Aquifer, West Texas,USA


Department of Geography and Environmental Science Program, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #305279, Denton, Texas 76203-5017, USA


Nitrate, arsenic, and selenium concentrations in the Pecos Valley Aquifer of west Texas were compiled, mapped, and analyzed in the context of local geology and land use. Alluvial deposits of sand, silt, clay, and gravel compose the unconfined aquifer. Ranching and farming are predominant land uses in the rural study area. Data were tabulated from 79 water wells with a median depth of 75 m and mapped with a geographic information system (GIS). The wells were sampled
between the years 2003 and 2008. Total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations in the aquifer were very high, with a median value of 2,687 mg/L. Approximately 18% of observations exceeded the 44.27 mg/L drinking water standard for nitrate, whereas 6% exceeded the 10 μg/L standard for arsenic, and only 4% surpassed the 50 μg/L standard for selenium. There was a statistically significant, direct correlation between arsenic and selenium, as well as between nitrate and selenium concentrations Moreover, arsenic and selenium concentrations were significantly higher in shallower wells. Probable sources of groundwater contamination in the study area include natural (geological) sources and agricultural activity.