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U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Scientific Investigation Report 2006-5250


Nutrient Concentrations, Loads, and Yields in the Eucha-Spavinaw Basin, Arkansas and Oklahoma, 20022004

By Robert L. Tortorelli

 

Cover of Sir-2006-5250

Abstract

The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, uses Lake Eucha and Spavinaw Lake in the Eucha-Spavinaw basin in northwestern Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma for public water supply. Taste and odor problems in the water attributable to blue-green algae have increased in frequency over time. Changes in the algae community in the lakes may be attributable to increases in nutrient levels in the lakes, and in the waters feeding the lakes. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Tulsa, conducted an investigation to summarize nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and provide estimates of nitrogen and phosphorus loads, yields, and flow-weighted concentrations in the Eucha-Spavinaw basin for a 3-year period from January 2002 through December 2004. This report provides information needed to advance knowledge of the regional hydrologic system and understanding of hydrologic processes, and provides hydrologic data and results useful to multiple parties for interstate compacts.

Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were significantly greater in runoff samples than in base-flow samples at Spavinaw Creek near Maysville, Arkansas; Spavinaw Creek near Colcord, Oklahoma, and Beaty Creek near Jay, Oklahoma. Runoff concentrations were not significantly greater than in base-flow samples at Spavinaw Creek near Cherokee, Arkansas; and Spavinaw Creek near Sycamore, Oklahoma.

Nitrogen concentrations in base-flow samples significantly increased in the downstream direction in Spavinaw Creek from the Maysville to Sycamore stations then significantly decreased from the Sycamore to the Colcord stations. Nitrogen in base-flow samples from Beaty Creek was significantly less than in those from Spavinaw Creek. Phosphorus concentrations in base-flow samples significantly increased from the Maysville to Cherokee stations in Spavinaw Creek, probably due to a point source between those stations, then significantly decreased downstream from the Cherokee to Colcord stations. Phosphorus in base-flow samples from Beaty Creek was significantly less than phosphorus in base-flow samples from Spavinaw Creek downstream from the Maysville station.

Nitrogen concentrations in runoff samples were not significantly different among the stations on Spavinaw Creek; however, the concentrations at Beaty Creek were significantly less than at all other stations. Phosphorus concentrations in runoff samples were not significantly different among the three downstream stations on Spavinaw Creek, and not significantly different at the Maysville station on Spavinaw Creek and the Beaty Creek station. Phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations in runoff samples from all stations generally increased with increasing streamflow.

Estimated mean annual nitrogen total loads from 20022004 were substantially greater at the Spavinaw Creek stations than at Beaty Creek and increased in a downstream direction from Maysville to Colcord in Spavinaw Creek, with the load at the Colcord station about 2 times that of Maysville station. Estimated mean annual nitrogen base-flow loads at the Spavinaw Creek stations were about 5 to 11 times greater than base-flow loads at Beaty Creek. The runoff component of the annual nitrogen total load for Beaty Creek was 85 percent, whereas, at the Spavinaw Creek stations, the range in the runoff component was 60 to 66 percent.

Estimated mean annual phosphorus total loads from 20022004 were greater at the Spavinaw Creek stations from Cherokee to Colcord than at Beaty Creek and increased in a downstream direction from Maysville to Colcord in Spavinaw Creek, with the load at the Colcord station about 2.5 times that of Maysville station. Estimated mean annual phosphorus base-flow loads at the Spavinaw Creek stations were about 2.5 to 19 times greater than at Beaty Creek. Phosphorus base-flow loads increased about 8 times from Maysville to Cherokee in Spavinaw Creek; the base-flow loads were about the same at the three downstream stations. The runoff component of the annual phosphorus total load for the Spavinaw Creek stations ranged from 66 to 93 percent, whereas the runoff component at Beaty Creek was 98 percent.

Estimated mean seasonal nitrogen base-flow and runoff loads generally were least in fall and greatest in spring at all stations in the Eucha-Spavinaw basin. Seasonal base-flow loads at stations on Spavinaw Creek were about 3 to 18 times greater than at the station on Beaty Creek and increased in a downstream direction from Maysville to Colcord in Spavinaw Creek, with the seasonal base-flow load at the Colcord station about 2 times that of Maysville station. Estimated mean seasonal phosphorus base-flow and runoff loads generally were least in fall and winter, and greatest in spring and summer at all stations in the Eucha-Spavinaw basin. Seasonal phosphorus base-flow loads at Spavinaw Creek stations were about 2 to 30 times greater than at the station on Beaty Creek.

Estimated mean annual nitrogen total yields ranged from 4,340 to 6,870 pounds per year per square mile, with greatest yield at Spavinaw Creek near Sycamore, and the least yield at Beaty Creek near Jay. Estimated mean annual nitrogen base-flow yields ranged from 664 to 2,640 pounds per year per square mile, and estimated mean annual nitrogen runoff yields ranged from 3,680 to 4,530 pounds per year per square mile. Estimated mean annual phosphorus total yields ranged from 227 to 456 pounds per year per square mile, with greatest the yield at Beaty Creek, and the least yield at Spavinaw Creek near Maysville. Most of the yield was delivered during runoff events. Estimated mean annual phosphorus base-flow yields at the three downstream Spavinaw Creek stations ranged from 62.5 to 112 pounds per year per square mile and were about 6 to 11 times greater than at Beaty Creek.

Estimated mean flow-weighted nitrogen concentrations at all stations in the basin for 20022004 were about 710 times greater than the 75th percentile of flow-weighted nitrogen concentrations (0.50 milligram per liter) in relatively undeveloped basins of the United States. Estimated mean flow-weighted phosphorus concentrations at all stations in the basin for 20022004 were about 410 times greater than the 75th percentile of flow-weighted phosphorus concentrations (0.037 milligram per liter) in relatively undeveloped basins of the United States.

Spavinaw Creek and Beaty Creek contributed an estimated mean annual nitrogen total load of about 1,350,000 pounds per year and about 65 percent of the annual nitrogen total load was transported to Lake Eucha by runoff. Spavinaw Creek and Beaty Creek contributed an estimated mean annual phosphorus total load of about 77,700 pounds per year with about 86 percent of the annual phosphorus total load being transported to Lake Eucha by runoff.

 

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Study Area Description

Streamflfow in the Eucha-Spavinaw Basin

Nutrient Concentrations in Undeveloped Basins

Acknowledgments

Methods

Water-Quality Data Collection and Analysis

Streamflow Separation

Statistical Tests

Load and Yield Estimation

Nutrient Concentrations, Loads, and Yields in the Eucha-Spavinaw Basin

Concentrations

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Estimated Mean Annual Loads

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Estimated Mean Seasonal Loads

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Estimated Mean Annual Yields

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Estimated Mean Flow-Weighted Concentrations

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Estimated Mean Annual Nutrient Loads into Lake Eucha

Summary

Selected References

Appendixes


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