Watson, Eliza (2012-02). Surface Water Chemistry in White Oak Creek, North-East Texas: Effect of Land Use. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Over the last few decades increasing attention has been paid to the effects of land use activities and land management on stream water quality. Recent research has largely focused on dominant land uses such as urban development and agricultural cropland. The relative effect of land use activities and management on stream chemistry in sub-tropical rangeland ecosystems, where much of the land use is converted to pasture and agriculture is largely unknown. This study examined stream water quality and land use in a sub-tropical watershed in Northeast Texas largely dominated by rangeland. The study site, White Oak Creek Watershed located in the Sulphur River Basin, has been identified as an impaired stream due to low dissolved oxygen concentrations and subsequently listed on the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality's 303d list (TCEQ). In an attempt to determine potential sources of the low dissolved oxygen concentrations, twenty different chemical constituents were analyzed at 18 different sample sites in the tributaries of White Oak Creek and also along the main stem from April 2010 to March 2011. Dissolved oxygen concentrations over the study period were consistently above the minimum standard required by TCEQ and showed no indication of impairment. Correlation analysis did not show any clear correlation between dissolved oxygen and any specific land use, or any chemical constituent. Some nutrients and suspended sediment concentrations were significantly different among the sub-catchments of White Oak Creek. Urban land uses were significantly and positively correlated to electrical conductivity, ammonium-N, magnesium, calcium, and dissolved organic carbon. Agricultural land use was significantly and positively correlated to orthophosphate-P, dissolved organic nitrogen, total suspended solids, and turbidity. Forests were inversely and significantly related to nitrate-N, orthophosphate-P, sulfate, dissolved organic carbon, total suspended solids, and turbidity. The study suggested that by maintaining a relatively high proportion of forested land in a watershed that water quality can be improved.

publication date

  • December 2011