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Technical Report

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phosphorus, Illinois River, Oklahoma, water monitoring


Phosphorus levels in the Illinois River are of great interest to the people of the States of Arkansas and Oklahoma. A great deal of effort has been expended to ascertain and modify the phosphorus impacts on the river. An automatic water sampling station was installed on the Illinois River just upstream from the State line in 1996 to accurately quantify the phosphorus in the Arkansas portion of the watershed. This paper summarizes five years worth of phosphorus sampling results at that site. In addition, a simple mass balance for phosphorus in the Illinois River Watershed above the sampling station was developed. The mass balance consisted of determining phosphorus inputs in the drainage area and comparing these to phosphorus outputs, during the same five-year period, allowing for an estimation of phosphorus accumulation. Sampling results showed that phosphorus levels were rapidly increasing in the Illinois River at the State line. Input information showed that over 7 million pounds of phosphorus were discharged into the 575 square mile basin annually. Mass balance calculations indicated that the point source discharges were responsible for up to 43% of the phosphorus in the river. The calculations indicate that only 4% of the phosphorus applied in the watershed reached the river annually. The remaining 96% accumulated in the watershed at an average rate of 8 kg per pasture acre per year. The effect of point source reductions was investigated and resulting mean concentrations were compared to a 0.037 mg/l in-stream phosphorus limit recently adopted by the State of Oklahoma.

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