Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


s the Earth's population grows, we must work harder to find new fresh water sources and to protect existing ones. This Capstone focuses on the contributions of nitrate contamination to groundwater in the Salinas Valley. How is the spatial distribution of nitrate contamination changing over time, and should we be more concerned about some areas than others? I sampled wells throughout the Salinas Valley in Summer 2000 and combined that data with historical data provided by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency. Agricultural and domestic wells from Castroville to San Ardo were included in the survey. The Monterey County Consolidated Chemistry Laboratory analyzed the samples for nitrate, chloride, and conductivity. I prepared a GIS model of the data to examine patterns in space and time. I found nitrate concentrations to be increasing across the Salinas Valley, with the most serious rates in the Eastside and Forebay. Nitrate appears to move by diffusion in all areas but the Pressure subarea, where it advances laterally due to lack of overhead recharge.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science & Policy Institute