• Open Access

Nutrient Loadings to Streams of the Continental United States from Municipal and Industrial Effluent


  • Paper No. JAWRA-10-0175-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms

(E-Mail/Maupin: mamaupin@usgs.gov).


Maupin, Molly A. and Tamara Ivahnenko, 2011. Nutrient Loadings to Streams of the Continental United States From Municipal and Industrial Effluent. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(5):950-964. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00576.x

Abstract:  Data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Permit Compliance System national database were used to calculate annual total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) loads to surface waters from municipal and industrial facilities in six major regions of the United States for 1992, 1997, and 2002. Concentration and effluent flow data were examined for approximately 118,250 facilities in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Inconsistent and incomplete discharge locations, effluent flows, and effluent nutrient concentrations limited the use of these data for calculating nutrient loads. More concentrations were reported for major facilities, those discharging more than 1 million gallons per day, than for minor facilities, and more concentrations were reported for TP than for TN. Analytical methods to check and improve the quality of the Permit Compliance System data were used. Annual loads were calculated using “typical pollutant concentrations” to supplement missing concentrations based on the type and size of facilities. Annual nutrient loads for over 26,600 facilities were calculated for at least one of the three years. Sewage systems represented 74% of all TN loads and 58% of all TP loads. This work represents an initial set of data to develop a comprehensive and consistent national database of point-source nutrient loads. These loads can be used to inform a wide range of water-quality management, watershed modeling, and research efforts at multiple scales.