Persistent urban impacts on surface water quality mediated by stormwater recharge

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Growing urban environments stress hydrologic systems and
impact downstream water quality. We examined a third-order catchment
that transitions from an undisturbed mountain environment into urban
Salt Lake City, Utah. We performed synoptic surveys during a range of
seasonal baseflow conditions and utilized multiple lines of evidence to
identify mechanisms by which urbanization impacts water quality. Surface
water chemistry did not change appreciably until several kilometers into
the urban environment, where concentrations of solutes such as chloride
and nitrate increase quickly in a gaining reach. Groundwater springs
discharging in this gaining system demonstrate the role of contaminated
baseflow from an aquifer in driving stream chemistry. Hydrometric and
hydrochemical observations were used to estimate that the aquifer contains approximately 18% water sourced from the urban
area. The carbon and nitrogen dynamics indicated the urban aquifer also serves as a biogeochemical reactor. The evidence of
surface water−groundwater exchange on a spatial scale of kilometers and time scale of months to years suggests a need to evolve
the hydrologic model of anthropogenic impacts to urban water quality to include exchange with the subsurface. This has
implications on the space and time scales of water quality mitigation efforts.

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Journal Article
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Gabor R.S., Hall S.J., Eiriksson D.P., Jameel Y., Millington M., Stout T., Barnes M.L., Gelderloos A., Tennant H., Bowen G.J., Neilson B.T., Brooks P.D. Persistent Urban Influence on Surface Water Quality via Impacted Groundwater (2017) Environmental Scie
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Environmental Science and Technology
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Non-EPSCoR Authors: 
Malory Millington