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Project ID: 2004PA26B

Title: Controls on Nutrient Levels for Spruce Creek and a Major Tributary

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Water Quality

Keywords: Spruce Creek, nutrient analysis, water quality

Start Date: 03/01/2004

End Date: 02/28/2006

Federal Funds: $15,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $33,429

Congressional District: 9th of PA

Principal Investigators:
David Lehmann

Ryan Mathur

Dennis Johnson


Spruce Creek, one of the premier trout fisheries in the state, economically bolsters an otherwise agricultural economy. Although both the tourism and agriculture industries are essential to the Spruce Creek watershed region’s economy; agricultural land use, if not properly managed, does present potential environmental risks to the stream. In order to monitor the health of the stream, we conducted a baseline study focusing on nitrates and phosphates, total dissolved solids, pH, temperature, and discharge. The baseline water quality dataset for Spruce Creek will be used to understand the physical and chemical aspects of the stream so as to highlight conditions that lead to stream impairment. In this study, we utilize high frequency sampling and analysis (HFSA) techniques, as our previous work and recently published work of others indicates that HFSA leads to more accurate predictive models.

Two students will measure the nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity, and temperature of the water and the discharge of the stream at ten sampling sites for ten consecutive weeks in the summer of 2004 and continue monitoring the stream at least twice a week throughout the 2004-2005 academic year. This study builds upon two consecutive years of HFSA we have completed in the watershed. Previous years included abnormally dry (2002) and abnormally wet (2003) springs and summers. Because there is very little overlap of conditions between these two years of data, a third year of data is needed to complete predictive models which we are designing. Few studies have examined stream chemistry with as much frequency over such a long duration of three years. This large dataset will clearly identify what ‘normal’ physical and chemical conditions versus abnormal conditions would be on the stream.

The objectives of the study are threefold:
1. Illustrate the influence of agricultural inputs to the stream: The dataset may quantify the effect of agricultural practices in the Spruce Creek watershed. The data will allow us to complete the development of a predictive model that will help avoid impairment of the stream’s health. Additionally, the data will allow us to help engineer solutions to minimize agricultural influence upon the stream.
2. Provide research experience for undergraduates: The students involved in the experience will gain invaluable practical training in water quality assessment and collection of information.
3. Involve and spark interest in the local community: The dataset will be accessible to the community and presented at local meetings. The study will provide valuable information to a community that relies so heavily on the health of the stream.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Wednesday July 13, 2005 4:51 PM
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