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Hydrology 2017, 4(2), 31; doi:10.3390/hydrology4020031

Advancing Understanding of the Surface Water Quality Regime of Contemporary Mixed-Land-Use Watersheds: An Application of the Experimental Watershed Method

1
School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 203-T ABNR Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
2
Institute of Water Security and Science, Davis College, Schools of Agriculture and Food, and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luca Brocca
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 1 June 2017 / Published: 7 June 2017

Abstract

A representative watershed was instrumented with five gauging sites (n = 5), partitioning the catchment into five nested-scale sub-watersheds. Four physiochemical variables were monitored: water temperature, pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), and dissolved oxygen (DO). Data were collected four days per week from October 2010–May 2014 at each gauging site. Statistical analyses indicated significant differences (p < 0.05) between nearly every monitoring site pairing for each physiochemical variable. The water temperature regime displayed a threshold/step-change condition, with an upshifted and more variable regime attributable to the impacts of urban land uses. TDS, pH, and DO displayed similar spatiotemporal trends, with increasing median concentrations from site #1 (agriculture) to #3 (mixed-use urban) and decreasing median concentrations from site #3 to #5 (suburban). Decreasing concentrations and increasing streamflow volume with stream distance, suggest the contribution of dilution processes to the physiochemical regime of the creek below urban site #3. DO concentrations exceeded water quality standards on an average of 31% of observation days. Results showed seasonal trends for each physiochemical parameter, with higher TDS, pH, and DO during the cold season (November–April) relative to the warm season (May–October). Multivariate modeling results emphasize the importance of the pH/DO relationship in these systems, and demonstrate the potential utility of a simple two factor model (water temperature and pH) in accurately predicting DO. Collectively, results highlight the interacting influences of natural (autotrophic photosynthesis, organic detritus loading) and anthropogenic (road salt application) factors on the physiochemical regime of mixed-land-use watersheds.
Keywords: surface water quality; dissolved oxygen; pH; total dissolved solids; land use impacts; experimental watershed method surface water quality; dissolved oxygen; pH; total dissolved solids; land use impacts; experimental watershed method
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kellner, E.; Hubbart, J.A. Advancing Understanding of the Surface Water Quality Regime of Contemporary Mixed-Land-Use Watersheds: An Application of the Experimental Watershed Method. Hydrology 2017, 4, 31.

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