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Estimating urban air pollution contribution to South Platte River nitrogen loads with National Atmospheric Deposition Program data and SPARROW model

October 1, 2021

Air pollution is commonly disregarded as a source of nutrient loading to impaired surface waters managed under the Clean Water Act per states’ 303(d) list programs. The contribution of air pollution to 2017–2018 South Platte River nitrogen (N) loads was estimated from the headwaters to the gage at Weldona, Colorado, USA (100 km downstream of Denver), using data from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) and the SPAtially Referenced Regressions On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) model. The NADP offers wet-deposition raster created by spatial interpolation of data collected from regionally representative monitoring sites, excluding the influences from urban site data. For this study, NADP wet-deposition data obtained from sites within the Denver-Boulder, Colorado, urban corridor were included and excluded in new spatial interpolations of wet-deposition raster, which were used as input for SPARROW to model the influence of urban air pollution sources on South Platte River loads. Because urban air pollution is already incorporated into the NADP Total Deposition modeling methodology, dry N deposition was held constant for each SPARROW modeling scenario when dry deposition was included. By including the urban wet-deposition data in the model, estimated N loading to the South Platte River at Denver increased by 9–11 percent. Factoring in dry deposition at a 1:1.8 dry:wet ratio obtained from the results, urban air pollution was estimated to contribute as much as 20 percent of the nitrate Total Maximum Daily Load for Segment 14 of the South Platte River.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Estimating urban air pollution contribution to South Platte River nitrogen loads with National Atmospheric Deposition Program data and SPARROW model
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113861
Authors Gregory Wetherbee, Michael Wieczorek, Dale M. Robertson, David A. Saad, Jon Novick, Alisa Mast
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Environmental Management
Series Number
Index ID 70226957
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Colorado Water Science Center

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