Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2020-20



Developing Sensor Proxies for "Chemical Cocktails" of Trace Metals in Urban Streams




Morel, CJ; Kaushal, SS; Tan, ML; Belt, KT


12 ( 10 )




Understanding transport mechanisms and temporal patterns in the context of metal concentrations in urban streams is important for developing best management practices and restoration strategies to improve water quality. In some cases, in-situ sensors can be used to estimate unknown concentrations of trace metals or to interpolate between sampling events. Continuous sensor data from the United States Geological Survey were analyzed to determine statistically significant relationships between lead, copper, zinc, cadmium, and mercury with turbidity, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, and discharge for the Hickey Run, Watts Branch, and Rock Creek watersheds in the Washington, D.C. region. We observed a significant negative linear relationship between concentrations of Cu and dissolved oxygen at Rock Creek (p < 0.05). Sometimes, turbidity had significant positive linear relationships with Pb and Hg concentrations. There were negative or positive linear relationships between Pb, Cd, Zn, and Hg and specific conductance. There also appeared to be relationships between watershed areal fluxes of Pb, Cu, Zn, and Cd in streams with turbidity. Watershed monitoring approaches using continuous sensor data have the potential to characterize the frequency, magnitude, and composition of pulses in concentrations and loads of trace metals, which could improve the management and restoration of urban streams.

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