Status and Trends of Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus Concentrations, Loads, and Yields in Streams of Mississippi, Water Years 2008–18
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- Dataset: USGS National Water Information System database —USGS water data for the Nation
- Data Release: USGS data release —Datasets of streamflow, nutrient concentrations, loads and trends for the Mississippi Ambient Water-Quality Network stations, water years 2008 through 2018
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To assess the status and trends of conditions of surface waters throughout Mississippi, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), summarized concentrations and estimated loads, yields, trends, and spatial and temporal patterns of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) at 20 stream sites in MDEQ’s ambient water-quality monitoring network and 2 stream sites in the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment Project’s monitoring network.
Comparison of streamflow at the time of water-quality sample collection to flow-duration curves for each site showed that samples were relatively evenly spread over a wide range of flows, indicating that load estimations were representative of a wide range of flows. Relation of streamflow to concentrations of TN and TP varied among sites and land use. Sites with high agriculture land use in the drainage basin tended to have a positive correlation between streamflow and concentration, suggesting influence of event-driven nonpoint-source runoff. Sites near urban (developed) areas tended to have a negative correlation between streamflow and concentration, suggesting chronic point-source influences during low-flow conditions. Sites with high forest land use and lower agriculture and urban (developed) land use showed little to no association between streamflow and concentration.
Seasonal distributions of concentrations of TN and TP also corresponded closely with variations in land use. Sites near urban (developed) land had the highest concentrations in late summer and fall, sites with a high percentage of agricultural land had the highest concentrations in the spring, and sites that were primarily forested or with little developed land did not exhibit substantial changes in concentration across seasons.
Eight sites had statistical likelihoods for upward trends of TN loads, and seven sites had statistical likelihoods for downward trends. Trends in TN loads at six sites were considered “about as likely as not,” meaning that a site has an equal chance of having an upward or downward trend. Trend results of mean annual flow-normalized loads of TP for the period of analysis (2008–18) showed that 16 sites had upward trends, 3 sites had downward trends, and 2 sites were considered “about as likely as not.”
Results from our study were compared to results from existing regional models to assess accuracy of predictions at a local scale. Comparisons of yields predicted from 2012 regional-scale SPAtially Referenced Regressions on Watershed attributes (SPARROW) to results from this study showed the 2012 SPARROW-predicted estimates varied in consistency with results from this study. The 2012 SPARROW-prediction model underestimated TN yields, more often and by a slightly larger degree, more than it overestimated TN yields. The 2012 SPARROW-predicted model tended to underestimate yields at study sites with higher yields. All four sites in the predominantly agricultural area of northwest Mississippi, locally known as the Mississippi Delta, were underestimated by 2012 SPARROW. For TP, yield comparisons at sites with lower yields were consistent, yields at sites with midrange yields tended to be overestimated by SPARROW, and yields at sites with high yields tended to be underestimated by SPARROW. TP yields at four sites in the Mississippi Delta were underestimated by the 2012 SPARROW-predicted model.
Results of select sites from our study were also compared to other published load estimates from an earlier time period to evaluate possible trends. Comparison of TN yields at four sites and TP yields at three sites from the study-derived estimates to estimates made from data spanning 1993–2004 showed decreasing TN yields at all four sites and decreasing TP yields at two of three sites, with increasing yields of TP at the Yazoo River lower site. Also, a third comparison of the TN and TP yields of the Yazoo River lower site of this study to estimates made from data spanning 1996–97 showed decreasing TN yields but similar TP yields. This suggests that TN yields may have decreased over the last 20–30 years, but TP yields remain constant or are increasing.
Hicks, M.B., Crain, A.S., and Segrest, N.G., 2023, Status and trends of total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations, loads, and yields in streams of Mississippi, water years 2008–18: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2023–5003, 77 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20235003.
ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)
Table of Contents
- Data Collection
- Hydrology and Water Quality
- Trends in Streamflow and Nutrient Loads
- Comparing Study Results to Other Published Nutrient Annual Yields and 2012 SPARROW Model Estimates
- Summary and Conclusions
- References Cited
- Appendix 1
|USGS Numbered Series
|Status and trends of total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations, loads, and yields in streams of Mississippi, water years 2008–18
|Scientific Investigations Report
|U.S. Geological Survey
|Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
|Report: x, 77 p.; Data Release; Dataset
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