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Effect of development on water quality for seven streams in North Carolina

Effect of development on water quality for seven streams in North Carolina

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 185(8): 6277-6289

ISSN/ISBN: 0167-6369

PMID: 23307048

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-012-3024-z

In this study, baseflow and storm discharges were monitored in seven watersheds of varying development density to document the effects of development on stream water quality. In addition, two of the watersheds contained package wastewater treatment facilities, which were evaluated as an alternative to residential on-site septic systems. Monthly grab samples of baseflow and flow-proportional samples of storm event discharge were collected and analyzed for nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and bacteria. For the five watersheds without wastewater treatment facilities, a significant linear relationship was documented between fecal coliform and enterococci levels in baseflow samples and the percentage of residential or impervious area. For the two watersheds with wastewater discharge, bacteria levels were significantly greater than those from the two relatively undeveloped watersheds. These results indicate that bacteria levels increased with increasing residential development even if many of the septic systems were replaced by a community wastewater treatment system. Computed annual export rates for ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) were correlated to the percentage of impervious surfaces in the watersheds, while the rates for other nitrogen forms, total phosphorus, and total suspended sediment were not. Annual export rates from the two mostly undeveloped watersheds were greater than a compilation of rates for undeveloped areas across the USA. Export from the four watersheds with more than 68 % residential land use was less than those reported from local and national studies of residential areas.

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Accession: 052802249

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