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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 6, p. 1980-1991
    Received: Sept 1, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): trasmuss@uga.edu
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Multivariate Statistical Characterization of Water Quality in Lake Lanier, Georgia, USA

  1. Xiaoqing Zengab and
  2. Todd C. Rasmussen *a
  1. a Warnell School of Forest Resources, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2152
    b Currently, Stetson Engineers, 2171 E. Francisco Blvd., Suite K, San Rafael, CA 94901


Watershed monitoring programs depend on water quality characterization data collected for many parameters, at many times and places, and with limited resources. Our objective is to present a strategy that reduces the measured parameters, locations, and frequency without compromising the quality of the monitoring program. One year of twice-monthly (growing season) and monthly (dormant season) water quality data collected from 17 lake and 10 tributary sites are used in conjunction with multivariate statistical techniques to improve the utility of collected data by identifying key parameters and monitoring locations. Factor analysis shows that tributary water quality data consists of three components—stormwater runoff, municipal and industrial discharges, and ground water—which can be distinguished using total suspended solids, total dissolved solids, and alkalinity plus soluble reactive P, respectively. Lake water quality characterization is more ambiguous than tributary water quality characterization, but factor analysis indicates that anoxia associated with lake stratification is the largest source of lake water quality variation, followed by nutrient abundance, and finally by biomass abundance. Cluster analysis suggests that tributary and lake monitoring stations can be consolidated. Reducing the number of parameters and stations frees up resources for increased monitoring elsewhere.

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