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Quality of surface-water supplies in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, water years 2012–13

September 7, 2016

Surface-water supplies are important sources of drinking water for residents in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which is located within the upper Cape Fear and Neuse River Basins. Since 1988, the U.S. Geological Survey and a consortium of local governments have tracked water-quality conditions and trends in several of the area’s water-supply lakes and streams. This report summarizes data collected through this cooperative effort, known as the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, during October 2011 through September 2012 (water year 2012) and October 2012 through September 2013 (water year 2013). Major findings for this period include:

  • Annual precipitation was approximately 2 percent above the long-term mean (average) annual precipitation in 2012 and approximately 3 percent below the long-term mean in 2013.
  • In water year 2012, streamflow was generally below the long-term mean during most of the period for the 10 project streamflow gaging stations. Streamflow was near or above the long-term mean at the same streamflow gaging stations during the 2013 water year.
  • More than 7,000 individual measurements of water quality were made at a total of 17 sites—6 in the Neuse River Basin and 11 in the Cape Fear River Basin. Forty-three water-quality properties or constituents were measured; State water-quality standards exist for 23 of these.
  • All observations met State water-quality standards for pH, temperature, hardness, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, nitrate, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, and selenium.
  • North Carolina water-quality standards were exceeded one or more times for dissolved oxygen, dissolved-oxygen percent saturation, turbidity, chlorophyll a, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, silver, and zinc. Exceedances occurred at all 17 sites.
  • Stream samples collected during storm events contained elevated concentrations of 19 water-quality constituents relative to non-storm events.
Publication Year 2016
Title Quality of surface-water supplies in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, water years 2012–13
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161137
Authors C.A. Pfeifle, J.L. Cain, R.B. Rasmussen
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2016-1137
Index ID ofr20161137
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization South Atlantic Water Science Center