Total Phosphorus Loads for Selected Tributaries to Sebago Lake, Maine

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4003

Prepared in cooperation with the Portland Water District



The streamflow and water-quality datacollection networks of the Portland Water District (PWD) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as of February 2000 were analyzed in terms of their applicability for estimating total phosphorus loads for selected tributaries to Sebago Lake in southern Maine. The long-term unit-area mean annual flows for the Songo River and for small, ungaged tributaries are similar to the long-term unit-area mean annual flows for the Crooked River and other gaged tributaries to Sebago Lake, based on a regression equation that estimates mean annual streamflows in Maine. Unit-area peak streamflows of Sebago Lake tributaries can be quite different, based on a regression equation that estimates peak streamflows for Maine. Crooked River had a statistically significant positive relation (Kendall's Tau test, p=0.0004) between streamflow and total phosphorus concentration. Panther Run had a statistically significant negative relation (p=0.0015). Significant positive relations may indicate contributions from nonpoint sources or sediment resuspension, whereas significant negative relations may indicate dilution of point sources. Total phosphorus concentrations were significantly larger in the Crooked River than in the Songo River (Wilcoxon rank-sum test, p<0.0001). Evidence was insufficient, however, to indicate that phosphorus concentrations from medium-sized drainage basins, at a significance level of 0.05, were different from each other or that concentrations in small-sized drainage basins were different from each other (Kruskal-Wallis test, p= 0.0980, 0.1265). All large- and medium-sized drainage basins were sampled for total phosphorus approximately monthly. Although not all small drainage basins were sampled, they may be well represented by the small drainage basins that were sampled. If the tributaries gaged by PWD had adequate streamflow data, the current PWD tributary monitoring program would probably produce total phosphorus loading data that would represent all gaged and ungaged tributaries to Sebago Lake. Outside the PWD tributary-monitoring program, the largest ungaged tributary to Sebago Lake contains 1.5 percent of the area draining to the lake. In the absence of unique point or nonpoint sources of phosphorus, ungaged tributaries are unlikely to have total phosphorus concentrations that differ significantly from those in the small tributaries that have concentration data. The regression method, also known as the rating-curve method, was used to estimate the annual total phosphorus load for Crooked River, Northwest River, and Rich Mill Pond Outlet for water years 1996-98. The MOVE.1 method was used to estimate daily streamflows for the regression method at Northwest River and Rich Mill Pond Outlet, where streamflows were not continuously monitored. An averaging method also was used to compute annual loads at the three sites. The difference between the regression estimate and the averaging estimate for each of the three tributaries was consistent with what was expected from previous studies.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Total Phosphorus Loads for Selected Tributaries to Sebago Lake, Maine
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Maine Water Science Center
ii, 15 p.