• atrazine;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • surface water hydrology;
  • water quality

ABSTRACT: A synoptic sampling of five surface-water sites in central Nebraska was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of its National Water-Quality Assessment Program during storm runoff in May 1992 to relate transport, yields, and concentrations of atrazine to environmental setting. Atrazine was the most extensively applied pesticide in the study unit. Atrazine transport was related to the size of contributing drainage area, quantity of atrazine applied, amount of precipitation, and volume of stream-flow. Estimated yields and mean concentrations of atrazine were related to the percentage of cropland in a drainage area. The largest estimated yields and mean concentrations of atrazine in surface water were associated from drainage areas with the highest percentage of cropland, and the smallest was associated with the smallest amount of cropland. Atrazine concentrations increased as streamflow increased but decreased at or near the time of peak streamflows, perhaps due to dilution. Atrazine concentrations then increased and remained elevated far into the stream recession. Atrazine is a regulated contaminant in finished public-water supplies. Large concentrations of atrazine could affect the management of public-water supplies because atrazine remains in solution in contrast to many other pesticides that are more easily removed.