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Methods for Estimating Annual Wastewater Nutrient Loads in the Southeastern United States

April 24, 2007

This report describes an approach for estimating annual total nitrogen and total phosphorus loads from point-source dischargers in the southeastern United States. Nutrient load estimates for 2002 were used in the calibration and application of a regional nutrient model, referred to as the SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes) watershed model. Loads from dischargers permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System were calculated using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Permit Compliance System database and individual state databases. Site information from both state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency databases, including latitude and longitude and monitored effluent data, was compiled into a project database. For sites with a complete effluent-monitoring record, effluent-flow and nutrient-concentration data were used to develop estimates of annual point-source nitrogen and phosphorus loads. When flow data were available but nutrient-concentration data were missing or incomplete, typical pollutant-concentration values of total nitrogen and total phosphorus were used to estimate load. In developing typical pollutant-concentration values, the major factors assumed to influence wastewater nutrient-concentration variability were the size of the discharger (the amount of flow), the season during which discharge occurred, and the Standard Industrial Classification code of the discharger. One insight gained from this study is that in order to gain access to flow, concentration, and location data, close communication and collaboration are required with the agencies that collect and manage the data. In addition, the accuracy and usefulness of the load estimates depend on the willingness of the states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide guidance and review for at least a subset of the load estimates that may be problematic.

Publication Year 2007
Title Methods for Estimating Annual Wastewater Nutrient Loads in the Southeastern United States
DOI 10.3133/ofr20071040
Authors Gerard McMahon, Larinda Tervelt, William Donehoo
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2007-1040
Index ID ofr20071040
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization U.S. Geological Survey