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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Stream Transport of Nutrients Through a Wetland1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 11 No. 1, p. 38-43
    Received: Feb 3, 1981

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  1. J. H. Peverly2



The potential of managed wetlands to remove nutrients from agricultural drainage water was investigated by hydrographic and nutrient analyses for 2 years in Oak Orchard Creek, N.Y., which drains in series cultivated Histosols (upstream) and wetlands managed for waterfowl (downstream). Three stations were established, two above and one below the wetland. Creek-water pH averaged about 7.4. Dissolved concentrations (mg/liter) ranged from 0 to 19 for N, 0.009 to 2 for P, 2 to 10 for K, 45 to 411 for Ca, and 10 to 102 for C, and were highest just below the cultivated areas. Eighty to ninety percent of the creek load was carried from December through March. The cultivated organic soils were a rich source of nutrients to the creek, and the managed wetlands acted as net nutrient sinks for N and P during the 2nd year only, when flow through the system was about half that in the 1st year. However, on an areal basis, much less nutrient material was lost from the wetlands than from other parts of the basin. The creek system seems to be N-limited; P loads exceeded N loads during late summer. It is suggested that nutrient retention by wetlands depends on past nutrient history and current regulation of water movement through the system.

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