Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 1997. Paper abstract bibtex
Water quality variables were samples over 109 weeks along Coweeta Creek, a fifth-order stream located in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. The purpose of this study was to observe any changes in water quality, over a range of flow conditions, with concomitant downstream changes in the mix of landuses. Variables sampled include pH, HCO32-, conductivity, NO3-_N, NH4+_N, PO43-_P, Cl-, Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, SO42-, SiO2, turbidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, total and fecal coliform, and fecal streptococcus. Landcover/ landuse was interpreted from 1:20,000 aerial photographs and entered in a GIS, along with information on total and paved road length, building location and density, catchment boundaries, hydrography, and slope. Linear regressions were performed to relate basin and near- stream land-scape variables to water quality. Consistent, cumulative, downstream changes in water quality variables were observed along Coweeta Creek, concomitant with downstream, human-caused changes in landuse. Furthermore, larger downstream changes in water quality variables were observed during stormflow when compared to baseflow, suggesting cumulative impacts due to landscape alteration under study conditions were much greater during storm events. Although most water quality regulations, legislation, and sampling are promulgated for baseflow conditions, this work indicates they should also consider the cumulative impacts of physical, chemical, and biological water quality during stormflow.