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Water resources of Monroe County, New York, water years 1997-99, with emphasis on water quality in the Irondequoit Creek basin—Atmospheric deposition, ground water, streamflow, trends in water quality, and chemical loads to Irondequoit Bay

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4221

Prepared in cooperation with the Monroe County Department of Health
By:

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Abstract

Irondequoit Creek drains 169 square miles in the eastern part of Monroe County. Over time, nutrients transported by Irondequoit Creek to Irondequoit Bay on Lake Ontario have contributed to the eutrophication of the bay. Sewage-treatment-plant effluent, a major source of nutrients to the creek and its tributaries, was eliminated from the basin in 1979 by diversion to a regional wastewater-treatment facility, but sediment and contaminants from nonpoint sources continue to enter the creek and Irondequoit Bay.

This report, the fourth in a series of reports that present interpretive analyses of the hydrologic data collected in Monroe County since 1984, interprets data from four surface-water monitoring sites in the Irondequoit Creek basin—Irondequoit Creek at Railroad Mills, East Branch Allen Creek at Pittsford, Allen Creek near Rochester, and Irondequoit Creek at Blossom Road. It also interprets data from three sites in the the Genesee River basin—Oatka Creek at Garbutt, Honeoye Creek at Honeoye Falls, and Black Creek at Churchville—as well as the Genesee River at Charlotte Pump Station, and also from a site on Northrup Creek at North Greece. The Northrup Creek site drains a 23.5-square-mile basin in western Monroe County, and provides information on surface-water quality in streams west of the Genesee River and on loads of nutrients delivered to Long Pond, a small eutrophic embayment of Lake Ontario. The report also includes water-level and water-quality data from nine observation wells in Ellison Park, and atmospheric-deposition data from a collection site at Mendon Ponds County Park.

Average annual loads of some chemical constituents in atmospheric deposition for 1997–99 differed considerably from those for the long-term period 1984–96. Ammonia and potassium loads for 1997-99 were 144 and 118 percent greater, respectively, than for the previous period. Sodium and ammonia + organic nitrogen loads were 87 and 60 percent greater, respectively. Average annual loads of sulfate and orthophosphate for 1997-99 were 36 and 30 percent lower, respectively, than for the previous period.

Loads of all nutrients deposited on the Irondequoit basin from atmospheric sources during 1997–99 greatly exceeded those transported by Irondequoit Creek. The ammonia load deposited on the basin was 139 times the load transported at Blossom Road (the most downstream site); the ammonia + organic nitrogen load was 6.3 times greater, orthophosphate 7.5 times greater, total phosphorus 1.3 times greater and nitrite + nitrate 1.5 times greater. Average yields of dissolved chloride and dissolved sulfate from atmospheric sources were much smaller than those transported by streamflow at Blossom Road.chloride was about 2 percent and sulfate about 8 percent of the amount transported.

Trends in concentration of chemical constituents in surface water generally can be attributed to changes in land use, annual and seasonal variations in streamflow, and annual variations in the application of road salt to county highways and roads.

Concentrations of several constituents in streams of the Irondequoit Creek basin showed statistically significant (α=0.05) trends from the beginning of their period of record through 1999. The constituent with the greatest number of significant trends was ammonia + organic nitrogen, with downward trends ranging from 4.1 to 5.6 percent per year at Allen Creek, Irondequoit Creek at Blossom Road, and East Branch Allen Creek. Orthophosphate showed an upward trend of 4.1 percent per year at Irondequoit Creek at Railroad Mills (the most upstream site). Dissolved chloride showed upward trends at Railroad Mills, Allen Creek, and Blossom Road. No trends in volatile suspended solids were noted at any of the four Irondequoit basin sites.

Northrup Creek showed significant downward trends in concentrations of ammonia + organic nitrogen (3.3 percent per year), total phosphorus (3.4 percent per year), and orthophosphate (5.5 percent per year), and an upward trend for dissolved sulfate (1.8 percent per year). The Genesee River at Charlotte Pump Station showed downward trends of 6.1 percent per year for ammonia + organic nitrogen and 0.1 percent per year for chloride, and upward trends of 1.7 percent per year for total phosphorus and 6.6 percent per year for orthophosphate.

Mean annual yields (mass per unit area) of most constituents at the Irondequoit Creek basin sites were similar to those noted for the previous report period (1994–96). East Branch Allen Creek showed lower yields of all constituents during 1997–99 than previously, even though runoff during 1997–99 was greater. These lower yields are attributed to the construction of an upstream detention basin on East Branch Allen Creek in 1995.

Statistical analysis of long-term (greater than 12 years) streamflow records for unregulated streams in Monroe County indicated that annual mean flows for water years 1997–99 were in the normal range (75th to 25th percentile), although Allen Creek continues to show a significant downward trend in mean monthly streamflow during the 1984–99 water years.

Suggested Citation

Sherwood, D.A., 2003, Water resources of Monroe County, New York, water years 1997-99, with emphasis on water quality in the Irondequoit Creek basin—Atmospheric deposition, ground water, streamflow, trends in water quality, and chemical loads to Irondequoit Bay: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002–4221, 55 p., https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri024221.

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Atmospheric Deposition
  • Ground Water
  • Surface Water
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Water resources of Monroe County, New York, water years 1997-99, with emphasis on water quality in the Irondequoit Creek basin—Atmospheric deposition, ground water, streamflow, trends in water quality, and chemical loads to Irondequoit Bay
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2002-4221
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
New York Water Science Center
Description:
vi, 55 p.
Country:
United States
State:
New York
County:
Monroe County
Online Only (Y/N):
N