Streamflow and concentrations of sodium and chloride estimated from records of specific conductance were used to calculate loads of sodium and chloride during water year (WY) 2011 (October 1, 2010, to September 30, 2011), for tributaries to the Scituate Reservoir, Rhode Island. Streamflow and water-quality data used in the study were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the Providence Water Supply Board (PWSB). Streamflow was measured or estimated by the USGS following standard methods at 23 streamgages; 14 of these streamgages were also equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring water level, specific conductance, and water temperature. Water-quality samples also were collected at 37 sampling stations by the PWSB and at 14 continuous-record streamgages by the USGS during WY 2011 as part of a long-term sampling program; all stations were in the Scituate Reservoir drainage area. Water-quality data collected by PWSB are summarized by using values of central tendency and are used, in combination with measured (or estimated) streamflows, to calculate loads and yields (loads per unit area) of selected water-quality constituents for WY 2011.
The largest tributary to the reservoir (the Ponaganset River, which was monitored by the USGS) contributed a mean streamflow of about 37 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) to the reservoir during WY 2011. For the same time period, annual mean1 streamflows measured (or estimated) for the other monitoring stations in this study ranged from about 0.5 to about 21 ft3/s. Together, tributaries (equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring specific conductance) transported about 1,600,000 kg (kilograms) of sodium and 2,600,000 kg of chloride to the Scituate Reservoir during WY 2011; sodium and chloride yields for the tributaries ranged from 9,800 to 53,000 kilograms per square mile (kg/mi2) and from 15,000 to 90,000 kg/mi2, respectively.
At the stations where water-quality samples were collected by the PWSB, the median of the median chloride concentrations was 20.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L), median nitrite concentration was 0.002 mg/L as nitrogen (N), median nitrate concentration was 0.01 mg/L as N, median orthophosphate concentration was 0.07 mg/L as phosphorus, and median concentrations of total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria were 33 and 23 colony forming units per 100 milliliters (CFU/100mL), respectively. The medians of the median daily loads (and yields) of chloride, nitrite, nitrate, orthophosphate, and total coliform and E. coli bacteria were 230 kilograms per day (kg/d) (80 kilograms per day per square mile (kg/d/mi2)); 10 grams per day (g/d) (6.3 grams per day per square mile (g/d/mi2)); 110 g/d (29 g/d/mi2); 610 g/d (270 g/d/mi2); 4,600 million colony forming units per day (CFUx106/d) (2,500 CFUx106/d/mi2); and 1,800 CFUx106/d (810 CFUx106/d/mi2), respectively.