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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Estimating Daily Nutrient Fluxes to a Large Piedmont Reservoir from Limited Tributary Data


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 22 No. 4, p. 666-671
    Received: Sept 9, 1992

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. M. A. Nearing *,
  2. R. M. Risse and
  3. L. F. Rogers
  1. Mathematics and Science Division, Gainesville College, Gainesville, FL 30503.



Physically based models of lakes require estimates of daily, spatially varied water and nutrient fluxes into the lake from surrounding watersheds. Often, however, only a selected set of streams are periodically (monthly or biweekly) sampled. The objective of this study was to develop and test a method for estimating daily flux of nutrients into a large reservoir using data from sampling of selected watersheds. Flow rate, nitrate (NO3-N), total nitrogen (TN), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), total phosphorus (TP), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) were measured monthly during 1991 for eight watersheds that feed Lake Lanier in northern Georgia. Daily stream flow in the eight streams was correlated to data from nearby USGS gauged stream stations, and daily nutrient concentrations were related to watershed land use and monthly variation in measured concentrations. Fraction of agricultural land in the watershed (AG) was the only land use parameter that correlated to nonpoint-source loads. Coefficients of determination for linear regressions between AG and NO3-N, TN, SRP, TP, and COD were 0.74, 0.73, 0.47, 0.84, and 0.52, respectively. The relationships were tested on an independent data set consisting of two samples from 19 additional streams. Coefficients of determination (r2) between measured and predicted data for the independent test data was 0.77, 0.52, 0.66, 0.64, 0.69, and 0.76 for stream flow, NO3-N, TN, SRP, TP, and COD, respectively. Percentages of nutrient loads attributable to nonpoint-source loads ranged between 76% for TN to 92% for TP and COD, whereas those attributable to agricultural nonpoint source were about 15% for COD, 28% for TN, 34% for NO3-N, 40% for TP, and 70% for SRP.

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