Evaluation of total phosphorus in the Altamaha-Ocmulgee-Oconee river basin
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Total phosphorus (TP) data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) between 1992 and 2003 for 23 mainstem river and headwater tributary stations in the Altamaha-Ocmulgee-Oconee (AOO) river basin were evaluated. The highest mean TP concentrations occurred at stations in the vicinities of Athens and Macon, the largest cities in the basin. Mean concentrations exhibited more variability at stations in the upper reaches of these two watersheds. Mainstem concentrations in the lower reaches were similar to each other and to concentrations in the Altamaha River. TP concentration and yield decreased in the Oconee River from upstream to downstream of Lakes Oconee and Sinclair. TP loads associated with effluent from wastewater treatment plants were 24 to 31 percent of the TP load calculated for the furthest downstream stations on the mainstem rivers. TP concentrations of the mainstem rivers approximated the midpoint of baseflow and stormflow concentrations reported for forested tributaries in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin. TP loads in the mainstem AOO rivers were comparable to scaled up loads using the midpoint TP concentration of the forested ACF tributaries as a basis.