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The use of continuous water-quality time-series data to compute nutrient loadings for selected Iowa streams, 2008–17

July 23, 2019

In support of nutrient reduction efforts, nitrate (as nitrate plus nitrite) and phosphorus loads and yields were computed for selected streams in Iowa based on continuously monitored sensor data for 2008–17 and 2014–17, respectively. Sample data were used to assess nitrate sensor bias and to create phosphorus-turbidity surrogate models. Where needed, nitrate loads were corrected for site-specific sensor bias, which was determined to be as high as 9.25 percent. Nitrate loads presented in this report using continuous (generally 15-minute interval) data were on average 4 percent less, but as much as 38 percent less, than annual loads computed from daily mean nitrate concentrations not corrected for sensor bias. Streamflow-based phosphorus models had poorer fit (adjusted coefficient of determination values less than 0.75) than turbidity-based models (adjusted coefficient of determination approximately 0.9). However, alternate models based on streamflow were used to obtain a more complete annual phosphorus load despite seasonal and fragmentary sensor data.

Mean annual nitrate yields for 18 selected sites (96 site-years) ranged from 1.68 to 164 pounds per square mile per day (lb/mi2/d), compared to 19.4 lb/mi2/d average statewide yield needed to achieve the nitrate-reduction goal. Mean annual phosphorus yields for selected sites on the Maquoketa River, South Raccoon River, and West Nishnabotna River range from 1.57 to 7.19 lb/mi2/d, compared to 1.06 lb/mi2/d average statewide yield needed to achieve the phosphorus-reduction goal.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title The use of continuous water-quality time-series data to compute nutrient loadings for selected Iowa streams, 2008–17
DOI 10.3133/sir20195054
Authors Jessica D. Garrett
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2019-5054
Index ID sir20195054
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Iowa Water Science Center; Central Midwest Water Science Center