Abstract

Nitrogen as nitrite-nitrate-N, ammonia-N, and total Kjeldahl nitrogen was determined in surface waters of streams in the Little Tallapoosa watershed in the Piedmont province of west Georgia. Within the watershed are extensive pastures, hay fields, and forests. There are also four small- to medium-sized urban areas, rapidly growing housing developments, one landfill, five sewage treatment facilities, and one sewage spray application site near the Little Tallapoosa River. Nitrogen concentration data were determined weekly for nine sample stations on the Little Tallapoosa River and monthly to weekly for 24 sample stations on tributary streams in 2001 as part of the West Georgia Watershed Assessment. Results indicate that nitrite-nitrate-N levels reach their highest during late summer and early fall. The highest nitrogen levels occur in a tributary that heads in a cattle pasture inside a city that discharges treated sewage into the stream. Twelve-hour sampling at two additional sample stations following rain events in 2002 indicates that increases in ammonia-N closely follow significant rainfalls (>0.5 in.; >1.3 cm). Water withdrawals of more than 8 million gal/day (30,000 m3/day) by four major public suppliers from streams in the Little Tallapoosa watershed had no effect on nitrogen concentrations in the streams in 2001.

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