Atlanta, Georgia (City of Atlanta, COA), is one of the most rapidly growing urban areas in the US. Beginning in 2003, the US Geological Survey established a long-term water-quantity/quality monitoring network for the COA. The results obtained during the first 2 years have provided insights into the requirements needed to determine the extent of urban impacts on water quality, especially in terms of estimating the annual fluxes of suspended sediment, trace/major elements, and nutrients. During 2004/2005, suspended sediment fluxes from the City of Atlanta (COA) amounted to about 150 000 t year-1; ??? 94% of the transport occurred in conjunction with storm-flow, which also accounted for ??? 65% of the annual discharge. Typically, storm-flow averaged ??? 20% of theyear. Normally, annual suspended sediment fluxes are determined by summing daily loads based on a single calculation step using mean-daily discharge and a single rating curve-derived suspended sediment concentration. Due to the small and 'flashy' nature of the COAs streams, this approach could produce underestimates ranging from 25% to 64%. Accurate estimates (?? 15%) require calculation time-steps as short as every 2-3 h. Based on annual median base-flow/storm-flow chemical concentrations, the annual fluxes of ??? 75% of trace elements (e.g. Cu, Pb, Zn), major elements (e.g. Fe, Al), and total P occur in association with suspended sediment; in turn, ??? 90% of the transport of these constituents occur in conjunction with storm-flow. As such, base-flow sediment-associated and dissolved contributions represent relatively insignificant portions of the total annual load. An exception is total N, whose sediment-associated fluxes range from 50% to 60%; even so, storm-related transport typically exceeds 80%. Hence, in urban environments, non-point-source appear to be the dominant contributors to the fluxes of these constituents.
Additional publication details
Monitoring urban impacts on suspended sediment, trace element, and nutrient fluxes within the City of Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Program design, methodological considerations, and initial results