Increased nutrient loading to the Gulf of Mexico from off-continent flux has been identified as contributing to the increase in the areal extent of the low dissolved-oxygen zone that develops annually off the coast of Louisiana and Texas. The proximity of the Yazoo River Basin in northwestern Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and the intensive agriculture in the basin have lead to speculation that the Yazoo River Basin contributes a disproportionate amount of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. Water samples from the Yazoo River were collected during 1996 and 1997 and were analyzed for total nitrogen, nitrate as nitrogen, total phosphorus, and orthophosphorus as part of the U.S. Geological Survey?s National Water-Quality Assessment Program. These data were used to compute annual loads of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from the Yazoo River for 1996 and 1997. Annual loads of nitrogen and phosphorus were calculated by two methods. The first used multivariate regression and the second multiplied the mean annual concentration by the total annual flow. Load estimates based on the product of the mean annual concentration and the total annual flow were within the 95 percent confidence interval for the load calculated by multivariate regression in all cases. The Yazoo River loads, compared to long-term annual loads in the Mississippi River, indicated that the Yazoo River was contributing 2.3 percent or less of the total nitrogen load, 5.7 percent or less of the total phosphorus load, and 1 percent or less of the nitrate load in 1996 and 1997. The total nitrogen load from the Yazoo River Basin into the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico was proportional to its discharge, the nitrate load was less than expected, whereas the total phosphorus load was slightly higher than expected based on discharge.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Concentrations and loads of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Yazoo River, northwestern Mississippi, 1996-97
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Branch of Information Services [distributor],