Sampling considerations for establishment of baseline loadings from forested watersheds for TMDL application

Pamela J. Edwards, Karl W.J. Williard, James N. Kochenderfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Five methods for estimating maximum daily and annual nitrate (NO3) and suspended sediment loads using periodic sampling of varying intensities were compared to actual loads calculated from intensive stormflow and baseflow sampling from small, forested watersheds in north central West Virginia to determine if the less intensive sampling methods were accurate and could be utilized in TMDL development. There were no significant differences between the annual NO3 load estimates using non-intensive sampling methods and the actual NO3 loads. However, maximum daily NO3 loads were estimated less accurately than annual loads. The ability to estimate baseline NO3 loads fairly accurately with non-intensive concentration data is attributed to the small fluctuation in NO3 concentrations over flow and time, particularly during storms. By contrast, suspended sediment exports determined by any of the non-intensive methods varied significantly and widely from and compared poorly to the actual exports for both daily and annual methods. Weekly sampling better approximated actual annual exports, but there were no significant statistical differences among weekly, monthly, and quarterly estimates. Suspended sediment concentrations varied widely within and among storm events, so that accurate estimates of total annual or maximum daily loads could not be obtained from infrequent sampling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-223
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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