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Trends in nutrients and suspended solids at the Fall Line of five tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, July 1988 through June 1995

Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4191

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Abstract

Water-quality samples were collected at the Fall Line of five tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia during a 6- to 7-year period. The water-quality data were used to estimate loads of nutrients and suspended solids from these tributaries to the non-tidal part of Chesapeake Bay Basin and to identify trends in water quality. Knowledge of trends in water quality is required to assess the effectiveness of nutrient manage- ment strategies in the five basins. Multivariate log-linear regression and the seasonal Kendall test were used to estimate flow-adjusted trends in constituent concentration and load. Results of multivariate log-linear regression indicated a greater number of statistically significant trends than the seasonal Kendall test; how-ever, when both methods indicated a significant trend, both agreed on the direction of the trend. Interpre- tation of the trend estimates for this report was based on results of the parametric regression method. No significant trends in total nitrogen concentration were detected at the James River monitoring station from July 1988 through June 1995, though total Kjeldahl nitrogen concen- tration decreased slightly in base-flow samples. Total phosphorus concentration decreased about 29 percent at this station during the sampling period. Most of the decrease can be attributed to reductions in point-source phosphorus loads in 1988 and 1989, especially the phosphate detergent ban of 1988. No significant trends in total suspended solids were observed at the James River monitoring station, and no trends in runoff- derived constituents were interpreted for this river. Significant decreases were detected in concentrations of total nitrogen, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, dissolved nitrite-plus-nitrate nitrogen, and total suspended solids at the Rappahannock River monitoring station between July 1988 and June 1995. A similar downward trend in total phosphorus concentration was significant at the 90-percent confidence level, but not the 95-percent confidence level. These decreases can be attributed primarily to reductions in nonpoint nutrient and sediment loads, and may have been partially caused by implementation of best management practices on agricultural and silvicultural land. Flow-adjusted trends observed at the Appomattox, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi monitoring stations were more difficult to explain than those at the James and Rappahannock stations. Total Kjeldahl nitrogen and total phosphorus increased 16 and 23 percent, respectively, at the Appomattox River monitoring station from July 1989 through June 1995. Total phosphorus concentration increased about 46 percent at the Pamunkey River monitoring station between July 1989 and June 1995. At the Mattaponi River monitoring station, decreases in dissolved nitrite-plus-nitrate nitrogen were offset by increases in total Kjeldahl nitrogen, resulting in no net change in total nitrogen concentration from October 1989 through June 1995.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Trends in nutrients and suspended solids at the Fall Line of five tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, July 1988 through June 1995
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
96-4191
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1996
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Information Services [distributor],
Description:
iv, 37 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.