Estimating impacts of land use on groundwater quality using trilinear analysis
Groundwater is connected to the landscape above and is thus affected by the overlaying land uses. This study evaluated the impacts of land uses upon groundwater quality using trilinear analysis. Trilinear analysis is a display of experimental data in a triangular graph. Groundwater quality data collected from agricultural, septic tank, forest, and wastewater land uses for a 6-year period were used for the analysis. Results showed that among the three nitrogen species (i.e., nitrate and nitrite (NOx), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), and total organic nitrogen (TON)), NOx had a high percentage and was a dominant species in the groundwater beneath the septic tank lands, whereas TON was a major species in groundwater beneath the forest lands. Among the three phosphorus species, namely the particulate phosphorus (PP), dissolved ortho phosphorus (PO4 3 −) and dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP), there was a high percentage of PP in the groundwater beneath the septic tank, forest, and agricultural lands. In general, Ca was a dominant cation in the groundwater beneath the septic tank lands, whereas Na was a dominant cation in the groundwater beneath the forest lands. For the three major anions (i.e., F−, Cl−, and SO4 2−), F− accounted for <1 % of the total anions in the groundwater beneath the forest, wastewater, and agricultural lands. Impacts of land uses on groundwater Cd and Cr distributions were not profound. This study suggests that trilinear analysis is a useful technique to characterize the relationship between land use and groundwater quality.