Influence of land use and open-water wetlands on water quality in the Lake Wallenpaupack basin, northeastern Pennsylvania

Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4186

, , and



The recreational value of Lake Wallenpaupack, along with its proximity to the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas, has resulted in residential development in parts of the watershed. Some of these developments encroach on existing ponds, lakes, and wetlands and result in the conversion of forest land to residential areas. Sediment and nutrients in runoff from these residential areas, and inputs from agricultural areas, sewage treatment plants, and atmospheric deposition, have had a significant effect on water quality in Lake Wallenpaupack. Water-quality data collected in the Lake Wallenpaupack watershed from 1991 through 1994 indicate the influence of land use on water resources. Water samples collected from a forested undeveloped basin contained lower concentrations of suspended sediment, nitrogen, and total phosphorus than samples collected from the basins of Ariel Creek and Purdy Creek that drain areas having mixed land use with residential developments. Sediment yields were three to four times higher in the developed basins of Purdy and Ariel Creeks compared to the forested undeveloped basin. Annual yields for total nitrogen for Ariel Creek and Purdy Creek were between three to five times greater than yields from the forested basin. For the 1993 water year, the annual yield for dissolved nitrate plus nitrite (as nitrogen) from Ariel Creek Basin was 1,410 pounds per square mile, or about 60 times greater than the 24 pounds per square mile from the undeveloped basin. The total-phosphorus yield from the Ariel Creek Basin was 216 pounds per square mile for the 1994 water year. This was about three times greater than the 74 pounds per square mile from the forested basin. The total-phosphorus yield for the Purdy Creek Basin was 188 pounds per square mile for the 1994 water year, or 2.5 times greater than the yield from the undeveloped forested basin. Only slight differences were observed in dissolved orthophosphate phosphorus loadings between the basins. All three basins displayed seasonal differences in water quality. Most of the annual yield occurred during early spring as a result of snowmelt runoff. Data collected from the Stevens Creek sites showed that an open-water wetland was very effective in removing sediment and total phosphorus but was not as effective in removing dissolved orthophosphate phosphorus and nitrogen. The wetland removed more than 96 percent of the sediment.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Influence of land use and open-water wetlands on water quality in the Lake Wallenpaupack basin, northeastern Pennsylvania
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
vi, 56 p. :ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ;28 cm.