Estimation of Shallow Groundwater Discharge and Nutrient Load into a River
Pollution of rivers with excess nutrients due to groundwater discharge, storm water runoff, surface loading,and atmospheric deposition is an increasing environmental concern worldwide. While the storm water runoff and surface loading of nutrients into many rivers have been explored in great detailed, the groundwater discharge of nutrients into the rivers has not yet been thoroughly quantified. This study ascertained the shallow groundwater discharges and nutrient loads into the Lower St. Johns River (LSJR), FL, USA. The groundwater discharges were obtained using Darcy’s law along with field measured hydrological parameters, whereas the groundwater nutrient loads were calculated based on the groundwater discharges and the field measured nutrient concentrations. The average rate of groundwater discharge per unit cross-section area over the four selected sites along the LSJR was about 1.2 × 10-2m3m-2 d-1. The average loads of groundwater nutrients into the adjacent LSJR were 10.6 and 5.6 mg m-2 d-1, respectively, for nitrate- and nitrite-nitrogen (NOx-N) and total phosphorus (TP). In general, seasonal variations of the groundwater levels were larger than the river stages, whereas site variations of groundwater nutrient concentrations were larger than seasonal variations of groundwater nutrient concentrations. Results from this study are useful for estimation of groundwater contamination and river eutrophication.