Water Resources of Colorado

Evaluation of Water Quality, Suspended Sediment, and Stream Morphology with an Emphasis on Effects of Stormflow on Fountain and Monument Creek Basins, Colorado Springs and Vicinity, Colorado, 1981 through 2001

by Patrick Edelmann, Sheryl A. Ferguson, Robert W. Stogner, Sr., Marianne August, William F. Payne, and James F. Bruce

Available from the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4104, 59p., 22figs.

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This report documents water quality and suspended sediment with an emphasis on evaluating the effects of stormflow on Fountain Creek Basin in the vicinity of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Water-quality data collected at 11 sites between 1981 and 2001 were used to evaluate the effects of stormflow on water quality. Suspended-sediment data collected at seven sites from 1998 through 2001 were used to evaluate effects of stormflow on suspended-sediment concentrations, discharges, and yields. Data were separated into three flow regimes: base flow, normal flow, and stormflow.

A comparison of stormwater-quality concentrations measured between 1981 and 2001 to Colorado acute instream standards indicated that, except for isolated occurrences, stormwater quality met acute instream standards. At several sites, 5-day biochemical oxygen demand, fecal coliform, and selected nutrient concentrations tended to be highest during stormflow and lowest during base flow. Dissimilar to the other nutrients, dissolved nitrite plus nitrate concentrations generally were highest during base flow and lowest during stormflow. Most dissolved trace-element concentrations associated with stormflow decreased or showed little change compared to base flow. However, median concentrations of total copper, iron, lead, nickel, manganese, and zinc for stormflow samples generally were much larger than nonstorm samples. The substantially larger concentrations of total copper, iron, lead, nickel, manganese, and zinc measured at site 5800 during stormflow as compared to other sites indicates a relatively large source of these metals in the reach between sites 5530 and 5800. Semi-volatile organic compounds in samples collected during stormflow were detected relatively infrequently at the four sites monitored; however, analysis of pesticide data collected during stormflow showed a relatively frequent detection of pesticides at low levels. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and particulate trace-element loads substantially increased during stormflow.

Suspended-sediment concentrations, discharges, and yields associated with stormflow were significantly greater than during normal flow. Depending on the site and year, suspended-sediment concentrations associated with storm-flow generally were 3 to10 times greater than concentrations measured during normal flow, and suspended-sediment discharges were usually more than 10 times greater during stormflow. The April through October cumulative suspended-sediment discharges and streamflows were largest in 1999 at all sites. Although large spatial variations in suspended-sediment yields occurred during normal flows, the suspended-sediment yields associated with stormflow generally were more than 10 times greater than the suspended-sediment yields that occurred during normal flow. The smallest suspended-sediment yields generally were less than 1 ton per day per square mile during stormflow. The largest suspended-sediment yields occurred at sites located in the Cottonwood Creek Basin and were greater than 10 tons per day per square mile.

Table of Contents



Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Land Use


Methods of Investigation

Precipitation, Streamflow, and Stormflow

Water Quality

Comparison of Water Quality between Base Flow, Normal Flow, and Stormflow

Onsite Measurements

Biochemical Oxygen Demand and Fecal Coliform Bacteria

Nitrogen and Phosphorus

Trace Elements

Semivolatile Organic Compounds and Pesticides Associated with Stormflow

Loads for Stormflow and Nonstormflow

Nitrogen and Phosphorus

Trace Elements

Comparison of Water Quality of Stormflow between Pre-1998 and Post-1997 Periods

Onsite Measurements, Biochemical Oxygen Demand, and Fecal Coliform Bacteria

Nitrogen and Phosphorus

Trace Elements

Comparison of Water Quality of Stormflow to Instream Standards

Ammonia and Nitrate Nitrogen

Trace Elements

Semivolatile Organic Compounds and Pesticides

Suspended-Sediment Concentrations, Discharges, and Yields

Annual Variations in Suspended-Sediment Concentrations, Discharges, and Yields

Spatial Variations in Suspended-Sediment Concentrations

Spatial Variations in Suspended-Sediment Discharges

Spatial Variations in Suspended-Sediment Yields

Stream Morphology

Sediment-Transport Capacity

Descriptive Assessment of Changes in Channel Morphology

Monument Creek

Cottonwood Creek

Fountain Creek


Selected References

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Water Resources of Colorado

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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