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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 107, Issue 1–3, pp 29–44 | Cite as

Linking Land Cover and Water Quality in New York City’S Water Supply Watersheds

  • M. H. Mehaffey
  • M. S. Nash
  • T. G. Wade
  • D. W. Ebert
  • K. B. Jones
  • A. Rager
Article

Abstract

The Catskill/Delaware reservoirs supply 90% of New York City’s drinking water. The City has implemented a series of watershed protection measures, including land acquisition, aimed at preserving water quality in the Catskill/Delaware watersheds. The objective of this study was to examine how relationships between landscape and surface water measurements change between years. Thirty-two drainage areas delineated from surface water sample points (total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria concentrations) were used in step-wise regression analyses to test landscape and surface-water quality relationships. Two measurements of land use, percent agriculture and percent urban development, were positively related to water quality and consistently present in all regression models. Together these two land uses explained 25 to 75% of the regression model variation. However, the contribution of agriculture to water quality condition showed a decreasing trend with time as overall agricultural land cover decreased. Results from this study demonstrate that relationships between land cover and surface water concentrations of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria counts over a large area can be evaluated using a relatively simple geographic information system method. Land managers may find this method useful for targeting resources in relation to a particular water quality concern, focusing best management efforts, and maximizing benefits to water quality with minimal costs.

Keyword

land use planning landscapes satellite imagery watersheds water quality 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Mehaffey
    • 1
  • M. S. Nash
    • 2
  • T. G. Wade
    • 1
  • D. W. Ebert
    • 2
  • K. B. Jones
    • 2
  • A. Rager
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DivisionU.S. Enviromental Protection AgencyResearch Triangle ParkU.S.A.
  2. 2.Environmental Sciences DivisionU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyLas VegasU.S.A.
  3. 3.Lockheed Martin Environmental ServicesLas VegasU.S.A.

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