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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 1, p. 47-53
    Received: Aug 12, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): calhoun.2@osu.edu
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Soils, Water Quality, and Watershed Size

  1. Frank G. Calhoun *a,
  2. David B. Bakerb and
  3. Brian K. Slaterc
  1. a School of Natural Resources, The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH 44691
    b Water Quality Laboratory, Heidelberg College, Tiffin, OH 44883
    c School of Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210


Soil variability in watersheds accounts for the problem of partitioning downstream water quality data and evaluating sources of nonpoint pollution. This review of previous water quality studies was conducted to examine more closely the influence of soil properties on pollutant export. The approach used in this paper was to start with data from the two largest watersheds (Maumee and Sandusky) and then compare them on a unit area export basis with data from intermediate-size and smaller watersheds. General relationships between pollutant levels at the river mouth and upstream soil conditions are vague and seemingly contradictory at the large-watershed scale. With smaller watersheds, it can be determined that soil texture, slope, and internal drainage are controlling factors for pollutant export. Although Paulding (very-fine, illitic, nonacid, mesic Typic Epiaquept) and Roselms (very-fine, illitic, mesic Aeric Epiaqualf) soils occupy only 5% of the Maumee basin, they generate more than 10 times as much sediment per unit area as the tile-drained Hoytville (fine, illitic, mesic Mollic Epiaqualf) soils that occupy 16% of the Maumee basin. Tile drainage of very poorly drained soils that are formed from either glacial till or silty to sandy lake deposits reduces runoff and increases downward movement of soluble nutrients into tile drains. The assumption that sloping moraine areas are the primary source of pollutants should be reexamined based on this review.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:47–53.