Estimated loads and yields of suspended soils and water-quality constituents in Kentucky streams

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4075




Loads and yields of suspended solids, nutrients, major ions, trace elements, organic carbon, fecal coliform, dissolved oxygen, and alkalinity were estimated for 22 streams in 11 major river basins in Kentucky. Mean daily discharge was estimated at ungaged stations or stations with incomplete discharge records using drainage-area ratio, regression analysis, or a combination of the two techniques. Streamflow was partitioned into total and base flow and used to estimate loads and yields for suspended solids and water-quality constituents by use of the ESTIMATOR and FLUX computer programs. The relative magnitude of constituent transport to streams from groundand surface-water sources was determined for the 22 stations. Nutrient and suspended solids yields for drainage basins with relatively homogenous land use were used to estimate the total-flow and base-flow yields of nutrient and suspended solids for forested, agricultural, and urban land. Yields of nutrients?nitrite plus nitrate, ammonia plus organic nitrogen, and total phosphorus?in forested drainage basins were generally less than 1 ton per square mile per year ((ton/mi2)/yr) and were generally less than 2 (ton/mi2)/yr in agricultural drainage basins. The smallest total-flow yields for nitrogen (nitrite plus nitrate) was estimated at Levisa Fork at Paintsville in which 95 percent of the land is forested. This site also had one of the smallest total-flow yields for ammonia plus organic nitrogen. In general, nutrient yields from forested lands were lower than those from urban and agricultural land. Some of the largest estimated total-flow yields of nutrients among agricultural basins were for streams in the Licking River Basin, the North Fork Licking River near Milford, and the South Fork Licking River at Cynthiana. Agricultural land constitutes greater than 75 percent of the drainage area in these two basins. Possible sources of nutrients discharging into the Licking River are farm and residential fertilizers. Estimated base-flow yields of suspended solids and nutrients at several basins in the larger Green River and Lower Cumberland River Basins were about half of their estimated total-flow yields. The karst terrain in these basins makes the ground water highly susceptible to contamination, especially if a confining unit is thin or absent.

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USGS Numbered Series
Estimated loads and yields of suspended soils and water-quality constituents in Kentucky streams
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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125 p.