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Relations of surface-water quality to streamflow in the Hackensack, Passaic, Elizabeth, and Rahway River basins, New Jersey, water years 1976-93

Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4049

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Abstract

Relations of water quality to streamflow were determined for 18 water-quality constituents at 19 surface-water-quality stations within the drainage basins of the Hackensack, Passaic, Elizabeth, and Rahway Rivers in New Jersey for water years 1976-93. Surface-waterquality and streamflow data were evaluated for trends (through time) in constituent concentrations during high and low flows, and relations between constituent concentration and streamflow, and constituent load and streamflow, were determined. Median concentrations were calculated for the entire period of study (water years 1976-93) and for the last 5 years of the period of study (water years 1989-93) to determine whether any large variation in concentration exists between the two periods. Medians also were used to determine the seasonal Kendall’s tau statistic, which was then used to evaluate trends in concentrations during high and low flows.

Trends in constituent concentrations during high and low flows were evaluated to determine whether the distribution of the observations changes over time for intermittent (nonpoint storm runoff) or constant (point sources and ground water) sources, respectively. Highand low-flow concentration trends were determined for some constituents at 11 of the 19 waterquality stations; 8 stations have insufficient data to determine trends. Seasonal effects on the relations of concentration to streamflow are evident for 16 of the 18 constituents. Negative slopes of relations of concentration to streamflow, which indicate a decrease in concentration at high flows, predominate over positive slopes because of dilution of instream concentrations from storm runoff.

The slopes of the regression lines of load to streamflow were determined in order to show the relative contributions to the instream load from constant (point sources and ground water) and intermittent sources (storm runoff). Greater slope values suggest larger contributions from storm runoff to instream load, which most likely indicate an increased relative importance of nonpoint sources. Load-to-streamflow relations along a stream reach that tend to increase in a downstream direction indicate the increased relative importance of contributions from storm runoff. Likewise, load-to-streamflow relations along a stream reach that tend to decrease in a downstream direction indicate the increased relative importance of point sources and ground-water discharge.

For most of the 18 constituents, load-to-streamflow relations at stations along a river reach remain constant or decrease in a downstream direction. The slopes increase in the downstream direction for some or all of the nutrient species at the Ramapo, lower Passaic, and Rahway Rivers; for dissolved solids, dissolved sodium, and dissolved chloride at the lower Passaic River; and for alkalinity and hardness at the Rahway River.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Relations of surface-water quality to streamflow in the Hackensack, Passaic, Elizabeth, and Rahway River basins, New Jersey, water years 1976-93
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
98-4049
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
New Jersey Water Science Center
Description:
Report: x, 102 p.; Appendix
Country:
United States
State:
New Jersey
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N