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Evaluation of agricultural best-management practices in the Conestoga River headwaters, Pennsylvania; description and water quality of the Little Conestoga Creek headwaters prior to the implementation of nutrient management

Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4131

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Abstract

The headwaters of the Conestoga River are being studied to determine the effects of agricultural Best-Management Practices on surface-water and ground-water quality. As part of this study, a 5.82-square-mile area of the Little Conestoga Creek headwaters (Small Watershed) was monitored during 1984-86, prior to implementation of Best-Management Practices. This report describes the land use and hydrology of this study area and characterizes its surface-water and ground-water quality during the pre-Best-Management Practice phase. During base-flow conditions, median concentrations of dissolved nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen as nitrogen increased from 2.7 to 8.1 milligrams per liter as the stream flowed through the intensively-farmed carbonate valley. Median total phosphorus increased from 0.05 to 0.20 milligram per liter. Concentrations of dissolved nitrate nitrogen as nitrogen measured in ground water in carbonate rocks in the valley were as great as 25 milligrams per liter and consistently exceeded 10 milligrams per liter. Statistical analysis showed that it will require substantial reductions in concentrations and discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus in base flow to obtain statistically measurable improvements in water quality. If concentrations and discharges of total nitrogen in base flow at the five sites are reduced by 15 to 33 percent, and by 63 to 70 percent, respectively, then the Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney rank-sum test will be able to detect an improvement in water quality 95 percent of the time. Likewise, if concentrations of total phosphorus are reduced by 36 to 54 percent, or discharges of total phosphorus are reduced by 52 to 69 percent at the five sites, then an improvement in water quality will be able to be detected 95 percent of the time.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Evaluation of agricultural best-management practices in the Conestoga River headwaters, Pennsylvania; description and water quality of the Little Conestoga Creek headwaters prior to the implementation of nutrient management
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
90-4131
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1992
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Description:
viii, 68 p. :ill. ;28 cm.