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Open-File Report 2014–1192

Prepared in cooperation with the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project Steering Committee

Quality of Surface-Water Supplies in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, Water Year 2009

By C.A. Pfeifle, M.J. Giorgino, and R.B. Rasmussen

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.46 MB)Abstract

Surface-water supplies are important sources of drinking water for residents in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which is located within the upper Cape Fear and Neuse River Basins. Since 1988, the U.S. Geological Survey and a consortium of governments have tracked water-quality conditions and trends in several of the area’s water-supply lakes and streams. This report summarizes data collected through this cooperative effort, known as the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, during October 2008 through September 2009. Major findings for this period include:

  • Annual precipitation was approximately 20 percent below the long-term mean (average) annual precipitation.

  • Streamflow was below the long-term mean at the 10 project streamgages during most of the year.

  • More than 7,000 individual measurements of water quality were made at a total of 26 sites—15 in the Neuse River Basin and 11 in the Cape Fear River Basin. Forty-seven water-quality properties and constituents were measured.

  • All observations met North Carolina water-quality standards for water temperature, pH, hardness, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, nitrate, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, and selenium.

  • North Carolina water-quality standards were exceeded one or more times for dissolved oxygen, dissolved oxygen percent saturation, chlorophyll a, mercury, copper, iron, manganese, silver, and zinc. Exceedances occurred at 23 sites—13 in the Neuse River Basin and 10 in the Cape Fear River Basin.

  • Stream samples collected during storm events contained elevated concentrations of 18 water-quality constituents compared to samples collected during non-storm events.

  • Concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus were within ranges observed during previous years.

  • Five reservoirs had chlorophyll a concentrations in excess of 40 micrograms per liter at least once during 2009: Little River Reservoir, Falls Lake, Cane Creek Reservoir, University Lake, and Jordan Lake.

First posted October 2, 2014

  • Table 1 and 2 XLSX (105 KB)
    Table 1. Water-quality and streamflow monitoring sites for the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, October 2008 through September 2009 (22.4 KB)

    Table 2. Summary of water-quality results for sampling sites in the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, October 2008 through September 2009 (82.5 KB).

For additional information, contact:
Director, North Carolina Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
3916 Sunset Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607

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Suggested citation:

Pfeifle, C.A., Giorgino, M.J., and Rasmussen, R.B., Quality of surface-water supplies in the Triangle area of North Carolina, water year 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1192, 13 p.,

ISSN 2331–1258 (online)




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Precipitation and Streamflow

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