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Relationships between land uses and rainwater quality in a southcentral Pennsylvania watershed

January 1, 1998

Spatial and temporal variability in rainfall concentrations of nutrients, major ions, and herbicides was monitored at 7 locations in or near the Conodoguinet Creek watershed in southcentral Pennsylvania from 1991-1993. Results were used to (1) compare precipitation quality in forested, agricultural and urban areas, and (2) assess the practicality of using volunteer citizen monitoring in such a study. As indicated in previous studies, sulfate and nitrogen concentrations in precipitation were linked to sample pH. Concentrations of major ions in precipitation appeared to relate more to regional influences rather than local influences. However, concentrations of herbicides in precipitation may have been influenced by both regional and local use which caused compounds like atrazine, deethylatrazine, propazine, simazine, metolachlor, alachlor, ametryn, and prometon to be present in detectable concentrations in rainfall. Seasonality was evident in nitrogen, sulfate, pH, and herbicide data and was suggested in calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, orthophosphate, and chloride data. Agricultural weed control activities were probably responsible for the seasonal pattern in pesticide data which peaked in May and June. Tropical storm Danielle may have caused the apparent seasonal patterns for the other nine parameters. This storm did not follow the typical west to east movement pattern and consequently produced rainfall of relative high quality. A variety of quality assurance checks indicated that trained volunteer citizen monitors were successful participants in this intensive and extensive scientific study, collecting good quality samples in a timely manner. Without this kind of volunteer help, it is extremely difficult to complete studies that require sampling in response to natural events such as rainfall.

Publication Year 1998
Title Relationships between land uses and rainwater quality in a southcentral Pennsylvania watershed
Authors R.H. Shertzer, D. W. Hall, S.A. Steffy, R.A. Kime
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Index ID 70020648
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse