State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007PA73B
Title: Improved quantification of stream-aquifer interactions for tracking nitrate transport along a river continuum: implementation of a cost-effective distributed-temperature sensing technology
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: 5th
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Water Quality, Nitrate Contamination
Keywords: distributed temperature sensors, nitrate transport, baseflow
Principal Investigators: Singha, Kamini; Day-Lewis, Fred (USGS)
Federal Funds: $ 20,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 52,621
Abstract: Efforts to control non-point source pollution require the identification of source areas, the spatial and temporal variability of loading, and an understanding of the distributed (or isolated) nature of discharge into streams. Improved water quality monitoring and modeling programs, including development of technologies that are capable of collecting long time-course data, would be useful for scientists studying nitrate transport processes and for development of best management practices in local watersheds. Unfortunately, direct detection of nitrate in water over large spatial and temporal scales is not currently feasible with available technologies, and no simple method for measuring spatially variable baseflow exists along stream reaches of even modest length. The goal of this work is to use spatially and temporally exhaustive temperature measured with remote-sensed fiber optic technologies as a candidate indicator for baseflow and nitrate contributions in streams. We will evaluate our approach statistically to quantify the relations between temperature, discharge, and nitrate. Specific objectives of this project are threefold, including: 1) the identification of areas of discrete baseflow, 2) quantification of spatial and seasonal mass fluxes from baseflow contributions into local streams, and 3) comparison of estimates of baseflow obtained with a calibrated, variably-saturated, groundwater flow model to in-situ seepage measurements. This research will develop an integrated approach to provide insights into heterogeneous, seasonally dependent stream-aquifer interactions and local transport, which will support local governmental agencies in Pennsylvania to assess compliance with total maximum daily loads, and provide "real time" information on pollution associated with high water events.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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