Diffuse pollution from human activities at the land surface remains a major groundwater quality concern for the UK, for our European partners, in North America and now increasingly in the developing world. The impact on the underlying groundwater of leached nitrogen from the gradual intensification of arable farming was recognized in the 1970s. Since then, considerable research effort has been devoted to quantifying the scope and scale of such pollution, understanding the mechanisms by which it occurs, and predicting likely future concentrations of nitrate in groundwater.

Over the years, concern about the impact of diffuse pollution has broadened to include...

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