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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Phosphorus Concentrations, Loads, and Sources within the Illinois River Drainage Area, Northwest Arkansas, 1997–2008


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 6, p. 2113-2120
    Received: Feb 5, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): haggard@uark.edu
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  1. Brian E. Haggard *
  1. Arkansas Water Resources Center, Univ. of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, 203 Engineering Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Assigned to Associate Editor Gurpal Toor


In the Ozark Highlands and across the United States, effluent phosphorus (P) sources often have a profound impact on water column concentrations and riverine transport. This study evaluated (i) annual P loads at the Illinois River at Arkansas Highway 59 from calendar year 1997 through 2008, (ii) the relative contribution of effluent P sources to annual riverine P transport, (iii) longitudinal gradients in water column P concentrations downstream from several wastewater treatment plant effluent discharges, and (iv) changes in monthly P loads over the last decade. This study showed that annual P loads have ranged from 64,000 kg to over 426,000 kg and that P transport was positively correlated to hydrology (i.e., the amount of water delivered downstream). The relative contribution of P inputs from municipal facilities has decreased from 40% of the annual P load at the Illinois River at Arkansas Highway 59 to <15% in recent years. Elevated P concentrations during base flow conditions were traced 45 river km upstream to one municipal effluent discharge, but all effluent discharges influenced P concentrations in the receiving streams. Most important, flow-adjusted monthly P loads showed two distinct trends over time. Flow-adjusted loads significantly increased from 1997 through 2002 and significantly decreased from 2002 through 2008. The concentrations and transport of P within the Illinois River drainage area are significantly decreasing from all the watershed management changes that have occurred, and monitoring should continue to determine if this decrease continues at the same rate over the next several years.

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Copyright © 2010. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America