Streamflow and water-quality data were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the Providence Water Supply Board, Rhode Island's largest drinking-water supplier. Streamflow was measured or estimated by the USGS following standard methods at 23 streamflow-gaging stations; 10 of these stations were also equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring specific conductance. Streamflow and concentrations of sodium and chloride estimated from records of specific conductance were used to calculate instantaneous (15-minute) loads of sodium and chloride during water year (WY) 2002 (October 1, 2001 to September 30, 2002). Water-quality samples were also collected at 35 of 37 sampling stations in the Scituate Reservoir drainage area by the Providence Water Supply Board during WY 2002 as part of a long-term sampling program. Water-quality data are summarized by using values of central tendency and are used, in combination with measured (or estimated) streamflows, to calculate loads and yields (loads per unit area) of selected water-quality constituents for WY 2002.
The largest tributary to the reservoir (the Ponaganset River, which was monitored by the USGS) contributed about 12.6 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) to the reservoir during WY 2002. For the same time period, annual mean streamflows measured (or estimated) for the other monitoring stations in this study ranged from about 0.14 to 8.1 ft3/s. Together, tributary streams (equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring specific conductance) transported about 534,000 kilograms (kg) of sodium and 851,000 kg of chloride to the Scituate Reservoir during WY 2002; sodium and chloride yields for the tributaries ranged from 2,900 to 40,200 kilograms per square mile (kg/mi2) and from 4,200 to 68,200 kg/mi2, respectively.
At the stations where water-quality samples were collected by the Providence Water Supply Board, the median of the median chloride concentrations was 16.8 milligrams per liter (mg/L), median nitrate concentration was 0.02 mg/L as N, median nitrite concentration was 0.002 mg/L as N, median orthophosphate concentration was 0.03 mg/L as P, and median concentrations of total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria were 22 and 14 colony forming units per 100 milliliters (CFU/100 mL), respectively. The medians of the median daily loads (and yields) of chloride, nitrate, nitrite, orthophosphate and total coliform and E. coli bacteria were 21 kg/d (12 kg/d/mi2), 0.04 kg/d (0.014 kg/d/mi2), 0.005 kg/d (0.002 kg/d/mi2), 0.08 kg/d (0.035 kg/d/mi2), and 370 million colony forming units per day (CFUx106/d) (120 CFUx106/d/ mi2) and 300 CFUx106/d (75 CFUx106/d/mi2), respectively.