Nitrate and biochemical oxygen demand change in a typical Midwest headwater stream in the past two decades

M. D. Shahin Alam, Bangshuai Han, Amy Gregg, John Pichtel
2020 H2Open Journal  
Nitrate and organic contamination from Midwest rivers, including the White River at Muncie, IN, has been an on-going concern and contributes to the hypoxic zone in the Gulf. Despite rich data, recent water quality changes have rarely been investigated. This study employed 16 years of continuous monitoring data, including biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), dissolved oxygen (DO), and nitrate–nitrite as nitrogen (NN) from five sites near Muncie, and analyzed the water quality trend and pollution
more » ... d and pollution sources. A novel approach, Weighted Regression on Time, Discharge and Seasons that allows for the representation of long-term water quality patterns by considering seasonal variance and discharge-related effects over time, is adopted. Flow-normalized BOD and NN concentration and flux both increased, and DO concentration and flux decreased. However, the changes vary among sites. Muncie wastewater treatment plant and combined sewage outflows (CSOs) contribute remarkably to NN pollution during low-flow seasons. Urban and agricultural runoff, and CSOs impact BOD levels. Agricultural runoff contribution to BOD is increasing in recent years. Seasonal patterns of nitrate and BOD in the river are also analyzed. The results are helpful for watershed managers to re-think conservation practices and have indications to water quality management beyond the study area.
doi:10.2166/h2oj.2020.054 fatcat:mw76eh2mxrgftakcnb7qlhbzvu