Nutrient, sediment, and pesticide data collected at four small agricultural basins in the Beaver Creek Watershed, West Tennessee, 1990-1995

U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 96-366

by Shannon D. Williams and Robin M. Harris

This report is available as a pdf below


In 1989, the U.S. Geological Survey began a cooperative study with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to assess the impact of agricultural activities on water quality in the Beaver Creek watershed in West Tennessee. Quantification of the transport of nutrients, sediment, and pesticides from agricultural fields was one of the objectives of the study. This report presents nutrient, sediment, and pesticide data collected during selected storm events from 1990 through 1995 at four relatively small, agricultural basins (28 to 422 acres) in the Beaver Creek watershed.

Approximately 3,000 water samples (500 to 1,000 at each site) were analyzed for nitrogen and phosphorus species. Total nitrogen (N) concentrations ranged from 0.2 to 41.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Median concentrations for samples from each site ranged from 2.0 to 2.7 mg/L for total nitrogen, 1.2 to 1.9 mg/L for organic nitrogen, 0.05 to 0.14 mg/L for ammonia (measured as N), and 0.2 to 0.8 mg/L for nitrate plus nitrite (measured as N). Total phosphorus (P) concentrations ranged from 0.03 to 16.0 mg/L. Median concentrations for samples from each site ranged from 0.80 to 1.2 mg/L for total phosphorus and 0.15 to 0.72 for orthophosphate (measured as P).

Approximately 6,000 water samples (1,300 to 1,800 at each site) were analyzed for suspended sediment. Suspended-sediment concentrations ranged from 8.0 to 98,353 mg/L. Concentrations exceeded 1,000 mg/L in 33 percent of the samples collected and exceeded 10,000 mg/L in 6 percent of the samples. Median concentrations ranged from 347 to 713 mg/L at the four sites.

Several herbicides and insecticides were detected in water samples. Maximum concentrations detected were 37 micrograms per liter (ug/L) for metolachlor, 3.2 ug/L for trifluralin, 150 ug/L for fluometuron, and 430 ug/L for aldicarb. Aldicarb metabolites were also detected in several samples. The maximum aldicarb sulfoxide and aldicarb sulfone concentrations detected were 68.4 and 14.3 ug/L, respectively.

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