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A Comparison of Nitrate Distribution in Shallow Groundwater of Two Agricultural Areas in Sri Lanka and in Japan

Authors:

SK Gunatilake ,

Department of Natural Resources, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, LK
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Y Iwao

Department of Civil Engineering, Saga University, Saga 840, JP
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Abstract

This paper compares the effects of adding fertilizer in nitrate pollution of groundwater in the Udunuwara area in Sri Lanka and the Shiroishi Plain in Japan. Excessive application of nitrogen fertilizers to soils contributes to contamination of groundwater by nitrates. As nitrate is one of the most identified contaminant in groundwater several environmental protection agencies maximum contamination level for nitrate is 10 mg/l as NO3-N. The problem becomes severe in rural areas where people depend entirely on dug wells in the shallow groundwater table for their drinking water supply. Several locations were selected from the Udunuwara area of Sri Lanka for the detailed study. Nineteen shallow dug wells and 4 deep tube wells were selected for water sampling beginning of January to March 1998.

Shiroishi Plain in Japan reclaimed from the Ariake Sea has a soil layer consisting of Ariake clay. The total 82 drug wells of average depth 1.5 m had been drilled around the area. Sample were collected in December 2000 and continued for one year around. Nitrate concentration in groundwater was measured by Cadmium reduction method.

The results showed a varying nitrate distribution pattern compared to that the Udunuwara area. The effect of fertilizer application on groundwater depends on soil type, fertilizer type and amount used, crop type and climatic condition. The highly permeable soil around Udunuwara area showed that shallow groundwater is highly vulnerable for nitrate than the poorly drained soil of the Shiroishi Plain in Japan. As the people living in Shiroishi Plain use deep groundwater for domestic purposes, drinking water is safe (less than Maximum Contaminated Level for nitrate in drinking water for Japan-10 mg/l as NO3-N) as far as the nitrate contamination is concerned. The results of these studies suggest that applying the correct rate of N fertilizer at the optimum time would have a substantial effect on reducing nitrate-N losses.

Key Words: Nitate Contamination; Groundwater; Land Reclamation; Fertilizer

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/suslj.v9i1.3736  

Sabaramuwa University Journal, Volume 9 Number 1; December 2010, pp 81-95

DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/suslj.v9i1.3736
How to Cite: Gunatilake, S. & Iwao, Y., (2011). A Comparison of Nitrate Distribution in Shallow Groundwater of Two Agricultural Areas in Sri Lanka and in Japan. Sabaragamuwa University Journal. 9(1), pp.81–95. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/suslj.v9i1.3736
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Published on 29 Oct 2011.
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