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New "Water Atlas" Reveals Nitrate, Phosphorous Pollution in Aligns with Fertilizer Use on Cropland

September 2, 2021
Interactive maps highlight impacts on surface water and groundwater in Upper Mississippi River Basin

The Environmental Working Group has produced an innovative “Water Atlas” tracking phosphorous and nitrate pollution in four Upper Mississippi River Basin states.

Through two interactive maps, the water atlas provides detailed information, parsed from over 189,000 public records from more than 8,200 state and federal water monitors, about phosphorus and nitrate pollution in surface water and groundwater, as well as nitrate in the drinking water provided by 3,794 community water systems in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The research, funded by the Walton Family Foundation, also highlights the extent to which fertilizer and/or manure is applied to cropland in each county, revealing a close correlation between intensive fertilization and high phosphorus and nitrate levels in water resources that put recreation, aquatic life and drinking water at risk.