Small ponds in headwater catchments are a dominant influence on regional nutrient and sediment budgets

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

Small ponds—farm ponds, detention ponds, or impoundments below 0.01 km2—serve important human needs throughout most large river basins. Yet the role of small ponds in regional nutrient and sediment budgets is essentially unknown, currently making it impossible to evaluate their management potential to achieve water quality objectives. Here we used new hydrography data sets and found that small ponds, depending on their spatial position within both their local catchments and the larger river network, can dominate the retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment compared to rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Over 300,000 small ponds are collectively responsible for 34%, 69%, and 12% of the mean annual retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the Northeastern United States, respectively, with a dominant influence in headwater catchments (54%, 85%, and 50%, respectively). Small ponds play a critical role among the many aquatic features in long‐term nutrient and sediment loading to downstream waters.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Small ponds in headwater catchments are a dominant influence on regional nutrient and sediment budgets
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2019GL083937
Volume 46
Issue 16
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Maryland Water Science Center, WMA - Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division, WMA - Earth System Processes Division
Description 9 p.
First page 9669
Last page 9677
Country United States