Surrogate measures for providing high frequency estimates of total suspended solids and total phosphorus concentrations

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Journal of the American Water Resources Association






Wiley Online Library

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Surrogate measures like turbidity, which can be observed with high frequency in situ, have potential for generating high frequency estimates of total suspended solids (TSS) and total phosphorus (TP) concentrations. In the semiarid, snowmelt-driven, and irrigation-regulated Little Bear River watershed of northern Utah, high frequency in situ water quality measurements were recorded in conjunction with periodic chemistry sampling. Site-specific relationships were developed using turbidity as a surrogate for TP and TSS at two monitoring locations. Methods are presented for employing censored data and for investigating categorical explanatory variables (e.g., hydrologic conditions). Turbidity was a significant explanatory variable for TP and TSS at both sites, which differ in hydrologic and water quality characteristics. The relationship between turbidity and TP was stronger at the upper watershed site where TP is predominantly particulate. At both sites, the relationships between turbidity and TP varied between spring snowmelt and base flow conditions while the relationships between TSS and turbidity were consistent across hydrological conditions. This approach enables the calculation of high frequency time series of TP and TSS concentrations previously unavailable using traditional monitoring approaches. These methods have broad application for situations that require accurate characterization of fluxes of these constituents over a range of hydrologic conditions. © 2010 American Water Resources Association.

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