Water-quality data from 23 surface-water-quality monitoring sites operated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and streamflow data from 11 U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations in the White River Basin were analyzed to determine recent (1981-90 water years) water-quality conditions, trends, and river loads for ammonia, nitrate, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus. The White River Basin drains 11,349 square miles of central Indiana and is divided into two equal subbasins--the East Fork White River and the White River upstream from its confluence with the East Fork (called the "west fork"). Commercial fertilizer is the largest source of nitrogen and phosphorus in the White River Basin. Mean annual nutrient loads near the mouth of the White River Basin were 1,200 tons of ammonia; 40,000 tons nitrate; 57,000 tons total nitrogen; and 2,900 tons total phosphorus. Approximately 2 percent of the total nitrogen load was ammonia, approximately 70 percent nitrate, and approximately 28 percent organic nitrogen. Phosphorus yields in the west fork were higher than those in the east fork because of greater amounts of treated sewage and urban runoff in the west fork. Similar annual nitrate yields at downstream monitoring sites on the east and west forks indicate effects of urban discharges of nitrate in the upstream reach of the White River were not discernible in the downstream reach, and that nonpoint sources of nitrate mask point sources of nitrate in terms of annual mass transport.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Water-quality assessment of the White River Basin, Indiana; analysis of selected information on nutrients, 1980-92
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
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