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The measuring station Potomac River at Chain Bridge at Washington, D.C., is located at the upstream end of the tidal Potomac River. Water-quality data were collected intensively at this site from December 1977 through September 1981 as part of a study of the tidal Potomac River and Estuary. Analysis of water-discharge data from the long-term gage at Little Falls, just up stream from Chain Bridge, shows that streamflow for the 1979-81 water years had characteristics similar to the 51-year average discharge (1931-81). Loads were computed for various forms of phosphorus and nitrogen, major cations and anions, silica, biochemical oxygen demand, chlorophyll a and pheophytin, and suspended sediment.
Load duration curves for the 1979-81 water years show that 50 percent of the time, water passing Chain Bridge carried at least 28 metric tons per day of total nitrogen, 1.0 metric tons per day of total phosphorus, 70 metric tons per day of silica, and 270 metric tons per day of suspended sediment. No consistent seasonal change in constituent concentrations was observed; however, a seasonal trend in loads due to seasonal changes in runoff was noted. Some storm runoff events transported as much dissolved and suspended material as is transported during an entire low-flow year.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Transport of dissolved and suspended material by the Potomac River at Chain Bridge, at Washington, D.C., water years 1978-81
Water Supply Paper
Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1987