Effect of Soils on Water Quantity and Quality in Piedmont Forested Headwater Watersheds of North Carolina

Authors

  • Johnny Boggs,

    1. Respectively, Biological Scientist (Boggs), Research Hydrologist (Sun), and Lead Research Ecologist (McNulty), USDA Forest Service, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, 920 Main Campus Drive Suite 300, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606
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  • Ge Sun,

    1. Respectively, Biological Scientist (Boggs), Research Hydrologist (Sun), and Lead Research Ecologist (McNulty), USDA Forest Service, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, 920 Main Campus Drive Suite 300, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606
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  • David Jones,

    1. Forestry NPS Senior Specialist (Jones), NCDA Forest Service, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699
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  • Steven G. McNulty

    1. Respectively, Biological Scientist (Boggs), Research Hydrologist (Sun), and Lead Research Ecologist (McNulty), USDA Forest Service, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, 920 Main Campus Drive Suite 300, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606
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    • Paper No. JAWRA-12-0027-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Discussions are open until six months from print publication.


(E-Mail/Boggs: jboggs@ncsu.edu).

Abstract

Boggs, Johnny, Ge Sun, David Jones, and Steven G. McNulty, 2012. Effect of Soils on Water Quantity and Quality in Piedmont Forested Headwater Watersheds of North Carolina. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-19. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12001

Abstract:  Water quantity and quality data were compared from six headwater watersheds on two distinct soil formations, Carolina Slate Belt (CSB) and Triassic Basins (TB). CSB soils are generally thicker, less erodible, and contain less clay content than soils found in TB. TB generated significantly more discharge/precipitation ratio than CSB (0.33 vs. 0.24) in the 2009 dormant season. In the 2009 growing season, TB generated significantly less discharge/precipitation ratio than CSB (0.02 vs. 0.07). Over the entire monitoring period, differences in discharge/precipitation ratios between CSB and TB were not significantly different (0.17 vs. 0.20, respectively). Storm-flow rates were significantly higher in TB than CSB in both dormant and growing season. Benthic macroinvertebrate biotic index scores were excellent for all streams. Nutrient concentrations and exports in CSB and TB were within background levels for forests. Low-stream nitrate and ammonium concentrations and exports suggested that both CSB and TB were nitrogen limited. Soils appear to have had a significant influence on seasonal and storm-flow generation, but not on long-term total water yield and water quality under forested conditions. This study indicated that watersheds on TB soils might be more prone to storm-flow generation than on CSB soils when converted from forest to urban. Future urban growth in the area should consider differences in baseline hydrology and effects of landuse change on water quantity and quality.

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