The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey began a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation-monitoring program in 1989 to assess the effectiveness of the Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Program. Hydrologic and water-quality data were collected at Brewery and Garfoot Creeks in 1984 and 1985 (pre-best-management practices (BMPs) period) and 1997 and 1998 (post-BMP period). In rural areas, best-management practices may include conservation tillage, contour strip-cropping, streambank protection, and various barnyard-runoff controls. Water-quality samples were collected during base flow and storms.
At Brewery Creek, no statistically significant differences in the median base flow water-quality concentrations between the pre- and post-BMP periods. At Garfoot Creek, the median suspended-sediment concentration at base flow decreased by 41 percent between the pre- and post-BMP periods and the median ammonia nitrogen concentration decreased by 67 percent. Both of these differences were statistically significant at the 0.05 (probability) level.
For both Brewery and Garfoot Creeks, the median storm loads for suspended sediment, total phosphorus, and ammonia nitrogen were compared statistically by means of the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. This test also was applied to regression residuals for differences between the pre- and post-BMP periods. For Garfoot Creek, only the median load for ammonia nitrogen shows a statistically significant difference between the pre-and post-BMP periods. None of the median storm loads for Brewery Creek were statistically significant at the 0.05 level. The decrease of the regression residuals between the pre- and post-BMP periods for ammonia nitrogen at Brewery Creek and for total phosphorus and ammonia nitrogen at Garfoot Creek all were statistically significant at the 0.05 level. These reductions between the pre- and post-BMP periods likely are results of the installed BMPs.
The effectiveness of the BMPs on water quality are watershed specific. The effectiveness of the practice will depend on the type, number, and location of the BMPs implemented.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of best-management practices in the Black Earth Creek Priority Watershed, Wisconsin, 1984-98