Water quality was characterized at three tributary watersheds to the Nepaug Reservoir-Nepaug River, Phelps Brook, and Clear Brook-from October 1998 through September 2001 to document existing water-quality conditions and evaluate potential future effects of the removal of sand and gravel from areas of the watershed. Some removal operations may include removal of vegetation and top soil and steepening of slopes. Routine water samples collected monthly in all three watersheds were analyzed for nutrients, organic carbon, major ions, and fecal indicator bacteria. Results of the analyses indicate that, in general, the water quality in all three tributary watersheds is good and meets standards established for drinking-water supplies for nitrate, but does not always meet contact-recreation standards for bacteria. Median concentrations of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total organic carbon were highest in the routine monthly samples from Phelps Brook and lowest from Clear Brook. Samples also were collected during selected storms to examine changes in concentrations of nutrients during periods of high streamflow. The maximum values measured for total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total organic carbon were in storm samples from Clear Brook.
The Nepaug River watershed delivered the largest loads of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total organic carbon to the reservoir. Yields of nutrients and organic carbon differed significantly from year to year and among the three watersheds. Yields of total nitrogen and total organic carbon were largest from Phelps Brook and smallest from Clear Brook. The yields of total phosphorus were largest from Nepaug River and smallest from Phelps Brook. In comparison to other watersheds in Connecticut, annual loads and yields from the three streams were lower than those of developed urban areas and comparable to those of other rural and forested basins. Delivery of nutrients and organic carbon to the reservoir took place mostly during the spring with the exception of those constituents delivered during Tropical Storm Floyd, a large fall storm.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Surface-Water Quality and Nutrient Loads in the Nepaug Reservoir Watershed, Northwestern Connecticut, 1999-2001