In order to determine patterns in the natural change of water quality and nutrient concentrations in streams and rivers in forested areas, a recent study has established that undisturbed water basins should be studied with long term data.
Alba Argerich, a postdoctoral research associate with Oregon State University and the lead author of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters, states that this is the first time anyone compares waters from water bodies in forests that have not been impacted by any human activity in the U.S.
The scientist points out that the aim of their work was to establish patterns in change of nutrients in these streams that can be used as a reference for water quality trends.
The study focused on nitrogen, because it is one of the main pollutants, introduced to the water bodies through the energy and food production industries. Once in the streams, reactive nitrogen can have a big impact on the communities in the water.
The researchers used more than 500 years of monitoring data on 22 streams carefully chosen from the USDA Forest Survice’s Experimental Forest and Range network.
The findings clearly showed that even within the same forest, concentrations could vary greatly. The scientists are convinced that understanding how patterns change could be a great asset for employing the best management practices.