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Relations of surface-water quality to streamflow in the Raritan River basin, New Jersey, water years 1976-93

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4045

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Abstract

Relations of water quality to streamflow were determined for 18 water-quality constituents at 21 surface-water stations within the drainage area of the Raritan River Basin for water years 1976-93. Surface-water-quality 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 between 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 through time for intermittent (nonpoint storm runoff) or constant (point sources and ground water) sources, respectively. Highand low-flow trends in concentrations were determined for some constituents at 13 of the 21 water-quality 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 the dilution of instream concentrations by 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 indicate larger contributions from storm runoff to instream load, which most likely indicate an increased relative importance of nonpoint sources. The slopes of 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. The slopes of load-to-streamflow relations increase in the downstream direction for alkalinity at North Branch Raritan and Millstone Rivers, for some or all of the nutrient species at South Branch and North Branch Raritan Rivers, for hardness at South Branch Raritan River, for dissolved solids at North Branch Raritan River, for dissolved sodium at Lamington River, and for suspended sediment and dissolved oxygen at Millstone River. Likewise, the slopes of load-tostreamflow 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. The slopes of load-to-streamflow relations decrease in the downstream direction for dissolved solids at Raritan and Millstone Rivers; for dissolved sodium, dissolved chloride, total ammonia plus organic nitrogen, and total ammonia at South Branch Raritan, Raritan, and Millstone Rivers; for dissolved oxygen at North Branch Raritan and Lamington Rivers; for total nitrite at Lamington, Raritan, and Millstone Rivers; for total boron at South Branch Raritan and Millstone Rivers; for total organic carbon at North Branch Raritan River; for suspended sediment and total nitrogen at Raritan River; and for hardness, total phosphorus, and total lead at Millstone River.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Relations of surface-water quality to streamflow in the Raritan River basin, New Jersey, water years 1976-93
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
99-4045
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
New Jersey Water Science Center
Description:
Report: ix, 101 p.; Appendix
Country:
United States
State:
New Jersey
Other Geospatial:
Raritan River Basin
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N