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Statistical summary of selected physical, chemical, and microbial characteristics, and estimates of constituent loads in urban stormwater, Maricopa County, Arizona

September 1, 1995

Stormwater and streamflow in the Phoenix, Arizona, area were monitored to determine the physical, chemical, and microbial characteristics of storm- water from areas having different land uses; to describe the characteristics of streamflow in a river that receives urban stormwater; and to estimate constituent loads in stormwater from unmonitored areas in Maricopa County, Arizona. Land use affects urban stormwater chemistry mostly because the percentage of impervious area controls the suspended-solids concentrations and varies with the type of land use. Urban activities also seem to concentrate cadmium, lead, and zinc in sediments. Urban stormwater had larger concentrations of chemical oxygen demand and biological oxygen demand, oil and grease, and higher counts of fecal bacteria than streamflow and could degrade the quality of the Salt River. Most regression equations for estimating constituent loads require three explanatory variables (total rainfall, drainage area, and per- centage of impervious area) and had standard errors that were from 65 to 266 percent. Localized areas that appear to contribute a large proportion of the constituent loads typically have 40 percent or more impervious area and are associated with industrial, commercial, and high-density residential land uses. The use of the mean value of the event-mean constituent concentrations measured in stormwater may be the best way of estimating constituent concentrations.