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Excessive nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) export from the Raccoon River in west central Iowa is an environmental concern to downstream receptors. The 1972 to 2000 record of daily streamflow and the results from 981 nitrate measurements were examined to describe the relation of nitrate to streamflow in the Raccoon River. No long term trends in streamflow and nitrate concentrations were noted in the 28-year record. Strong seasonal patterns were evident in nitrate concentrations, with higher concentrations occurring in spring and fall. Nitrate concentrations were linearly related to streamflow at daily, monthly, seasonal, and annual time scales. At all time scales evaluated, the relation was improved when baseflow was used as the discharge variable instead of total streamflow. Nitrate concentrations were found to be highly stratified according to flow, but there was little relation of nitrate to streamflow within each flow range. Simple linear regression models developed to predict monthly mean nitrate concentrations explained as much as 76 percent of the variability in the monthly nitrate concentration data for 2001. Extrapolation of current nitrate baseflow relations to historical conditions in the Raccoon River revealed that increasing baseflow over the 20th century could account for a measurable increase in nitrate concentrations.
Additional Publication Details
Relation of nitrate concentrations to baseflow in the Raccoon River, Iowa
Journal of the American Water Resources Association