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Increased sediment and nutrients delivered to bay as Susquehanna reservoirs near sediment capacity
Date:8/30/2012

ehanna River delivered about 2 percent of total water to the Bay for the last decade; however, it delivered 5 percent of the nitrogen, 22 percent of the phosphorus, and 39 percent of the suspended sediment.

According to the report, from 1996-2011 total phosphorus moving into the Bay has increased by 55 percent, and suspended sediment has increased by 97 percent. Over this time period, total nitrogen decreased by about 3 percent overall, but showed increases during large events.

These results represent the combined effects of the changes in sediment within the reservoirs, as well as changes in the sources of these constituents upstream. Another recent USGS study reported about a 25 percent reduction in nutrients and sediment concentrations just upstream of the reservoirs, reflecting the benefit of actions to improve water quality in the upper portion of the Susquehanna River watershed.

"Progress on reducing loadings of these pollutants from the Susquehanna River Basin depends on efforts made to limit the loadings in the watershed, as well as the effects of the downstream reservoirs," said Hirsch. "In general, the changes we have observed in the reservoirs and the resulting greater impact of storms are already overshadowing the ongoing progress being made in the watershed to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediments entering the Bay."

Sediment and nutrient loadings from the Susquehanna River are crucial to understanding the status and progress of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. On average, the Susquehanna River contributes nearly 41 percent of the nitrogen, 25 percent of the phosphorus, and 27 percent of the sediment load to the Bay.

"The findings of this USGS study increase the urgency of identifying and implementing effective management options for addressing the filling reservoirs," said Bruce Michael, director, Resource Assessment Service for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "The Lower Susquehan
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Contact: Kara Capelli
kcapelli@usgs.gov
571-420-9408
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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