The Hydrological Simulation Program Fortran (HSPF) was used to simulate the concentrations and loads of fecal coliform and nitrate for streams in the Mad River Basin in west-central Ohio during the period 1999 through 2003. The Mad River Basin was divided into subbasins that were defined either by the 14-digit Hydrologic Unit (HU) boundaries or by streamflow-gaging-station locations used in the model. Model calibration and simulation processes required the formation of nine meteorologic zones to input meteorologic time-series data and water-quality data.
Sources of fecal coliform and nitrate from wastewater-treatment discharges and combined sewer overflow discharges (CSOs) within the City of Springfield were point sources simulated in the model. Failing septic systems and cattle with direct access to streams were nonpoint sources included in the study but treated in the model as point sources. Other nonpoint sources were addressed by adjusting interflow and ground-water concentrations in the subsurface and maximum storage capacities and accumulation rates of the simulated constituents on the land surface for each meteorologic zone. Simulation results from the calibrated model show that several HUs exceeded the water-quality standard of 1,000 colony-forming units per 100 mL for fecal coliform based on the maximum 30-day geometric mean. Most HUs with high fecal coliform counts were within or downstream from the City of Springfield. No water-quality standard has been set for instream nitrate concentrations; however, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) considered a concentration of 5 mg/L or greater to be of concern. Simulation results indicate that several HUs in the agricultural areas of the basin exceeded this level.
The calibrated model was modified to create scenarios that simulated loads of fecal coliform and nitrate that were either reduced or eliminated from selected sources. The revised models included the elimination of failing septic systems, elimination of direct access of cattle to streams, decrease in fecal coliform loads from the CSOs and selected wastewater-treatment facilities, and decrease in nitrate loads from land surfaces. The fecal coliform source-reduction model decreased the fecal coliform concentrations below a target concentration of 1,000 colonies per 100 milliliters for all HU outlets and decreased the load at the mouth of the Mad River by 73 percent. The nitrate source-reduction model decreased some HU mean concentrations to 5 milligrams per liter or less and decreased the load at the mouth of the Mad River by 52 percent. Other reduction scenarios may be run by Ohio EPA with the intent of identifying a management strategy that will attain a target concentration for the Mad River Basin.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of Streamflow and Water Quality to Determine Fecal Coliform and Nitrate Concentrations and Loads in the Mad River Basin, Ohio