Nutrient Variations of Six Surface Water Bodies in McHenry County, IL

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CONFERENCE: Celebration of Learning

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Piske, Jacob
Geology; Hydrology; Water Resource Management
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This research analyzes water quality from several ponds in McHenry County, Illinois, with a goal of developing a understanding of pollution sources and temporal variations in concentrations of nitrate, potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, and sodium. Over the past 25 years, the population of McHenry County has grown rapidly, with residential developments expanding into former farmlands. Yet, the county remains heavily agricultural, with roughly 60% of the surface area used for agricultural purposes. Concentrations of NO3-, P+, K+, Cl-, and Na+ were analyzed from six sites: two in subdivisions, two in farmland, and two near major highways. Data were collected once a week from June through July, and twice during November 2016. Data were collected using two methods: the first method involved a color change test to test for NO3- and Cl- using 5 mL samples. The second method tested for dissolved Na+, K+, and P+ by pipetting water samples onto filter papers which were subsequently dried and analyzed using XRF spectroscopy. High concentrations of NO3- and Cl- were 13.2 ppm and 0.4 ppm, respectively, with EPA limits of 10 ppm and 250 ppm, respectively. High concentrations of Na+, P+, and K+ were 215 ppm, 181 ppm, and 345 ppm of K+, respectively, with EPA limits of 20 ppm for Na+, 0.05 ppm for P+, and no limit for K+. With NO3-, Na+, and P+ being over the EPA limit during the testing period there is cause for concern for downstream pollution as well as pollution of aquifers that recharge locally.