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Modeling Spatial Distributions of Point and Nonpoint Source Pollution Loadings in the Great Lakes Watersheds

Authors: Chansheng He, Carlo DeMarchi


A physically based, spatially-distributed water quality model is being developed to simulate spatial and temporal distributions of material transport in the Great Lakes Watersheds of the U.S. Multiple databases of meteorology, land use, topography, hydrography, soils, agricultural statistics, and water quality were used to estimate nonpoint source loading potential in the study watersheds. Animal manure production was computed from tabulations of animals by zip code area for the census years of 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002. Relative chemical loadings for agricultural land use were calculated from fertilizer and pesticide estimates by crop for the same periods. Comparison of these estimates to the monitored total phosphorous load indicates that both point and nonpoint sources are major contributors to the total nutrient loads in the study watersheds, with nonpoint sources being the largest contributor, particularly in the rural watersheds. These estimates are used as the input to the distributed water quality model for simulating pollutant transport through surface and subsurface processes to Great Lakes waters. Visualization and GIS interfaces are developed to visualize the spatial and temporal distribution of the pollutant transport in support of water management programs.

Keywords: Distributed Large Basin Runoff Model, Great LakesWatersheds, nonpoint source pollution, and point sources.

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