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Regional assessments of the Nation's water quality—Improved understanding of stream nutrient sources through enhanced modeling capabilities

November 14, 2011

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed assessments of stream nutrients in six major regions extending over much of the conterminous United States. SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regressions On Watershed attributes) models were developed for each region to explain spatial patterns in monitored stream nutrient loads in relation to human activities and natural resources and processes. The model information, reported by stream reach and catchment, provides contrasting views of the spatial patterns of nutrient source contributions, including those from urban (wastewater effluent and diffuse runoff from developed land), agricultural (farm fertilizers and animal manure), and specific background sources (atmospheric nitrogen deposition, soil phosphorus, forest nitrogen fixation, and channel erosion).

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