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Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4281

Does land use affect our streams?

Landers, Mark N.; Ankcorn, Paul D.; McFadden, Keith W.; Gregory, M. Brian


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Stream quality is a barometer of urban land-use pressures on a watershed. Managing land use in a watershed is vital to protecting drinking-water supplies, recreational opportunities, and stream ecosystem health. However, the effect of land use and management practices on streams is difficult to assess and often unmeasured. Pollution due to land use, or nonpoint-source pollution, is complex in its origin, transport, impacts, and response to management practices. How does urbanization affect sediment or nutrient loads in streams? How effective is a detention pond or a stream-buffer requirement? In six watersheds of Gwinnett County, Georgia, monitoring results of an ongoing study show the effects of land use on streamflow and on loads of suspended solids, metals, and nutrients.

First posted February 5, 2010

For additional information contact:
Director, Georgia Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
3039 Amwiler Rd.
Suite 130

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