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Identifying nutrient sources and sinks to the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, Denver, CO, during low-flow conditions in 2019–2020

October 11, 2022

Elevated concentrations and loads of nutrients in the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in Denver, Colorado, may have adverse effects on those streams and downstream water bodies, including increased production of algae, eutrophication, and decreased recreational opportunities. This article describes streamflow and concentrations and loads of nutrients for the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in Denver based on data collected during two longitudinal Lagrangian sampling campaigns in low-flow conditions in fall of 2019 and 2020. The results are used to assess sources and sinks of nutrients in the study area and help to establish baseline conditions against which future changes in nutrient concentrations and loads can be assessed. Discharges from Chatfield and Cherry Creek Reservoirs, storm drains, and most tributaries to the South Platte River, and Cherry Creek were generally small sources of streamflow and nutrient loads in both years. The Marcy Gulch, South Platte Water Renewal, and Robert W. Hite wastewater treatment plants were larger sources of streamflow and nutrient loads. The Burlington Ditch was a sink for streamflow and nutrient loads, diverting more than 95% of the South Platte River during the two sampling campaigns. Most other sinks were associated with decreases in streamflow between sampling sites. Golf courses were a potential source of nutrients for Cherry Creek but not for the South Platte River.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Identifying nutrient sources and sinks to the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, Denver, CO, during low-flow conditions in 2019–2020
DOI 10.1002/rra.4060
Authors William A. Battaglin, Tanner William Chapin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title River Research and Applications
Index ID 70237612
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Colorado Water Science Center