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Open-File Report 2010–1043

Prepared in cooperation with the
Providence Water Supply Board and the
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

Streamflow, Water Quality, and Constituent Loads and Yields, Scituate Reservoir Drainage Area, Rhode Island, Water Year 2003

By Robert F. Breault and Jean P. Campbell


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Streamflow and water-quality data were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the Providence Water Supply Board, Rhode Island’s largest drinking-water supplier. Streamflow was measured or estimated by the USGS following standard methods at 23 streamgage stations; 10 of these stations were also equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring specific conductance. Streamflow and concentrations of sodium and chloride estimated from records of specific conductance were used to calculate instantaneous (15-minute) loads of sodium and chloride during water year (WY) 2003 (October 1, 2002, to September 30, 2003). Water-quality samples were also collected at 37 sampling stations in the Scituate Reservoir drainage area by the Providence Water Supply Board during WY 2003 as part of a long-term sampling program. Water-quality data are summarized by using values of central tendency and are used, in combination with measured (or estimated) streamflows, to calculate loads and yields (loads per unit area) of selected water-quality constituents for WY 2003.

The largest tributary to the reservoir (the Ponaganset River, which was monitored by the USGS) contributed about 31 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) to the reservoir during WY 2003. For the same time period, annual mean streamflows1 measured (or estimated) for the other monitoring stations in this study ranged from about 0.44 to 20 ft3/s. Together, tributary streams (equipped with instrumentation capable of continuously monitoring specific conductance) transported about 1,200,000 kilograms (kg) of sodium and 1,900,000 kg of chloride to the Scituate Reservoir during WY 2003; sodium and chloride yields for the tributaries ranged from 10,000 to 61,000 kilograms per square mile (kg/mi2) and from 15,000 to 100,000 kg/mi2, respectively.

At the stations where water-quality samples were collected by the Providence Water Supply Board, the median of the median chloride concentrations was 21.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), median nitrite concentration was 0.002 mg/L as N, median nitrate concentration was 0.02 mg/L as N, median orthophosphate concentration was 0.06 mg/L as P, and median concentrations of total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria were 38 and 9 CFU/100 mL (colony forming units per 100 milliliters), respectively. The medians of the median daily loads (and yields) of chloride, nitrite, nitrate, orthophosphate, and total coliform and E. coli bacteria were 140 kg/d (67 kg/d/mi2), 15 g/d (6.5 g/d/mi2), 140 g/d (62 g/d/mi2), 340 g/d (180 g/d/mi2), and 2,200 million colony forming units per day (CFU×106/d) (1,200 CFU×106/d/mi2) and 940 CFU×106/d (490 CFU×106/d/mi2), respectively.

1The arithmetic mean of the individual daily mean discharges for the year noted or for the designated period.

First posted June 1, 2010

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center
42 Albion Road, Suite 107
Lincoln, RI 02865

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Suggested citation:

Breault, R.F., and Campbell, J.P., 2010, Streamflow, water quality, and constituent loads and yields, Scituate Reservoir drainage area, Rhode Island, water year 2003: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1043, 24 p. (Also available at




Streamflow Data Collection and Estimation

Water-Quality Data Collection and Analysis

Data Collected by the U.S. Geological Survey

Data Collected by the Providence Water Supply Board

Estimating Daily, Monthly, and Annual Loads and Yields


Water Quality and Constituent Loads and Yields

Sodium and Chloride Loads and Yields Estimated from Specific-Conductance Monitoring Data

Physical and Chemical Properties and Daily Loads and Yields Estimated from Data Collected by the Providence Water Supply Board

Physical and Chemical Properties

Constituent Concentrations and Daily Loads and Yields




References Cited

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