Paper No. 19
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
CHANGES IN WATER QUALITY DOWNSTREAM OF ATLANTA IN THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER
The United States Geological Society (USGS) has a water quality monitoring station on the Chattahoochee River near Whitesburg, Georgia, about 43 miles downstream of Atlanta, and has been continuously collected data there since 1938, along with a long-term monitoring program at this site beginning in 1941 to measure field and laboratory parameters roughly once per month. Parameters in this USGS monitoring program include nutrients, organics, bacteria, sediment, and physical properties of the water. The long term monitoring program is of importance especially in more recent years because of the massive urban sprawl in the metro Atlanta area, which contributes to the more than 250 million gallons per day of sewage and pollutants discharged into the river. In part, this has caused American Rivers to place the Chattahoochee River on the Most Endangered Rivers list seven times since 1986. The Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) also monitors the water quality of the Chattahoochee River and because of excessive levels of PCBs and fecal coliform bacteria, this section of river is classified on the 2006 305(b)/303(d) list of streams as not fully supporting their designated use. The GDNR also lists fish consumption recommendations and for the Chattahoochee River downstream of Atlanta, it is recommended to limit consumption of largemouth and spotted bass due to mercury and striped bass due to mercury and PCBs.
In addition to studying the levels of nitrite-nitrate-N, phosphorus, ammonia, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductivity plotted versus time, we examined the relationship of historic turbidity and fecal coliform bacteria data versus flow. We also compared our findings to research conducted from 2005-2007 by Adams et al. (2007) that showed the relationship of turbidity to flow in the Chattahoochee River at Whitesburg had an R2 value of 0.673. One additional purpose of this study is to use suspended sediment discharge data collected by the USGS to assess the amount of sediment being transported downstream into West Point Reservoir, built in 1975.