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Cover image from WRIR99-4084 (click for enlargement, 50 KB) U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4084

Water Resources of Monroe County, New York, Water Years 1989-93, with Emphasis on Water Quality In The Irondequoit Creek Basin
Part 2: Atmospheric Deposition, Ground Water, Streamflow, Trends in Water Quality, and Chemical Loads to Irondequoit Bay

By Donald A. Sherwood

ABSTRACT

Irondequoit Creek, which drains 169 square miles in the eastern part of Monroe County, has been recognized as a source of contaminants that contribute to the eutrophication of Irondequoit Bay on Lake Ontario. The discharge from sewage-treatment plants to the creek and its tributaries was eliminated in 1979 by diversion to another wastewater-treatment facility, but sediment and nonpoint-source pollution remain a concern. This report presents data from five surface-water sites in the Irondequoit Creek basin. Irondequoit Creek at Railroad Mills, East Branch Allen Creek, Allen Creek near Rochester, Irondequoit Creek at Blossom Road, and Irondequoit Creek at Empire Boulevard, to supplement published data from 1984-88. Data from Northrup Creek, which drains 11.7 square miles in western Monroe County, provide information on surface-water quality west of the Genesee River. Also presented are water-level and water-quality data from 12 observation-well sites in Ellison and Powdermill Parks and atmospheric-deposition data from 1 site (Mendon Ponds).

Concentrations of several chemical constituents in streams of the Irondequoit Creek basin showed statistically significant trends during 1989-93. Concentrations of total suspended-solids and volatile suspended-solids in Irondequoit Creek at Blossom Road decreased 13.5 and 12.5 percent per year, respectively, and those at Empire Boulevard decreased 33.5 and 22 percent per year, respectively. Concentrations of ammonia plus organic nitrogen increased 17.6 percent per year at one site in the basin, but decreased 8.5 and 22.3 percent per year at two sites. Nitrite plus nitrate decreased at only one site (3.5 percent per year). Concentrations of total phosphorus increased at two sites (about 7 percent per year) and decreased at two other sites (7.6 and 29.9 percent per year), and orthophosphate concentrations increased at one site (10.8 percent per year). Dissolved chloride increased at three sites (1.7 to 10.9 percent per year), and dissolved sulfate decreased at one site (2.1 percent per year) and increased at one site (6.8 percent per year).

Median concentrations of constituents were significantly lower in atmospheric deposition than in streamflow, although annual deposition of ammonia nitrogen, nitrite plus nitrate, total phosphorus, and orthophosphate in the basin exceeded the amounts removed by streamflow. Atmospheric deposition of chloride and sulfate, by contrast, represented only 1 and 12 percent, respectively, of the loads transported by Irondequoit Creek (Blossom Road site).

Comparison of water-quality data from the Allen Creek site and Irondequoit Creek at Blossom Road from water years 1989-93 with corresponding data from 1984-88 indicates significant changes in median concentrations of several constituents. The concentration of dissolved chloride increased at Blossom Road and was unchanged at Allen Creek, whereas sulfate decreased at both sites. Concentrations of ammonia plus organic nitrogen, and nitrite plus nitrate, were significantly lower during 1989-93 than during 1984-88 at both sites. Total phosphorus concentration was lower during 1984-88 than during 1989-93 at Blossom Road but showed no change at Allen Creek, and orthophosphate concentration for 1989-93 was lower than in 1984-88 at both sites. Comparison of chemical loads in atmospheric deposition also indicates significant changes in many constituents. Five-year-mean loads of sodium, sulfate, and lead in atmospheric deposition for 1989-93 exceeded those for 1984-88, whereas 5-year-mean loads of calcium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, nitrite plus nitrate, ammonia nitrogen, and orthophosphate for 1989-93 were lower than in 1984-88.

The changes in surface-water quality resulted from several factors within the basin, including land-use changes, annual and seasonal variations in streamflow, and year-to-year variations in the application of deicing salts on area roads. Statistical analyses of long-term (9 years or more) flow records of three unregulated streams in Monroe County indicate that annual mean flows for water years 1989- 93 were in the normal range (20th- to 80th-percentile). The greatest mean annual flow in this period.about 140 percent of normal at Irondequoit Creek and Black Creek.occurred in 1993, but the annual mean flow for that water year at Allen Creek was only 98 percent of normal. The lowest annual mean flows of these streams.ranging from 75 percent of normal to 93 percent of normal.occurred in 1989. The average annual mean flows for these streams for 1989-93 was 104 percent of normal, and that for 1984-88 was normal.


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