Nutrient, bacteria, organic carbon, and suspended- sediment samples were collected from 1993-95 at 43 surface-water-quality sampling sites within the Ozark Plateaus National Water- Quality Assessment Program study unit. Most surface-water-quality sites have small or medium drainage basins, near-homogenous land uses (primarily agricultural or forest), and are located predominantly in the Springfield and Salem Plateaus. The water-quality data were analyzed using selected descriptive and statistical methods to determine factors affecting occurrence in streams in the study unit.
Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer use increased in the Ozark Plateaus study unit for the period 1965-85, but the application rates are well below the national median. Fertilizer use differed substantially among the major river basins and physiographic areas in the study unit. Livestock and poultry waste is a major source of nutrient loading in parts of the study unit. The quantity of nitrogen and phosphorus from livestock and poultry wastes differed substantially among the river basins of the study unit's sampling network. Eighty six municipal sewage-treatment plants in the study unit have effluents of 0.5 million gallons per day or more (for the years 1985-91).
Statistically significant differences existed in surface-water quality that can be attributed to land use, physiography, and drainage basin size. Dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, total phosphorus, fecal coliform bacteria, and dissolved organic carbon concentrations generally were larger at sites associated with agricultural basins than at sites associated with forested basins. A large difference in dissolved nitrite plus nitrate concentrations occurred between streams draining basins with agricultural land use in the Springfield and Salem Plateaus. Streams draining both small and medium agricultural basins in the Springfield Plateau had much larger concentrations than their counterparts in the Salem Plateau. Drainage basin size was not a significant factor in affecting total phosphorus, fecal coliform bacteria, or dissolved organic carbon concentrations. Suspended-sediment concentrations generally were small and indicative of the clear water in streams in the Ozark Plateaus.
A comparison of the dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, total phosphorus, and fecal coliform data collected at the fixed and synoptic sites indicates that generally the data for streams draining basins of similar physiography, land-use setting, and drainage basin size group together. Many of the variations are most likely the result of differences in percent agricultural land use between the sites being compared or are discharge related. The relation of dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, total phosphorus, and fecal coliform concentration to percent agricultural land use has a strong positive 2 Water-Quality Assessment-Nutrients, Bacteria, Organic Carbon, and Suspended Sediment in Surface Water, 1993-95 correlation, with percent agricultural land use accounting for between 42 and 60 percent of the variation in the observed concentrations.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water-quality assessment of the Ozark Plateaus study unit, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma; nutrients, bacteria, organic carbon, and suspended sediment in surface water, 1993-95
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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