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Albemarle-Pamlico NAWQA
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About the Albemarle-Pamlico Drainage Basin Study

Albemarle-Pamlico Study (ALBE), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA)


Is the Nation's water quality getting better, worse, or staying the same?

The Albemarle-Pamlico study drainage basin (national location map) is one of 20 Study Units in the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program established in 1991 to help address this important question.

The ALBE drainage basin encompasses about 28,000 square miles in central and eastern North Carolina and southern Virginia and includes four major river basins—the Chowan, Roanoke, Tar, and Neuse. The study area extends through parts of four physiographic provinces—Valley and Ridge, Blue Ridge, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.

From 1991 to 2000 (Cycle I), data were collected on water chemistry, hydrology, stream habitat, and aquatic life from more than 65 streams and water chemistry from more than 50 wells throughout the study area. Data were collected intensively from 1992 to 1995, followed by a period of less intense monitoring.

In 2001 (Cycle II), a second cycle of intensive sampling began. Cycle II activities include surface- and ground-water sampling to assess trends, fish and water sampling for mercury, assessing water-quality in the Neuse River at a water-supply intake, sampling the Castle Hayne aquifer, and assessing urban effects on water quality and stream ecology.

Cycle II includes the ongoing development of a large-scale multiple-regression (SPARROW) model to predict nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Tar, Neuse, and Cape Fear Rivers.

Selected Publications

Harned, D.A., McMahon, Gerard, Spruill, T.B., and Woodside, M.D., 1995, Water-quality assessment of the Albemarle-Pamlico drainage basin, North Carolina and Virginia--Characterization of suspended sediment, nutrients, and pesticides: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 95-191, 131 p.

McMahon, Gerard, and Lloyd, O.B., Jr., 1995, Water-quality assessment of the Albemarle-Pamlico drainage basin, North Carolina and Virginia--Environmental setting and water-quality issues: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 95-136, 72 p.

Spruill, T.B., Harned, D.A., Ruhl, P.M., Eimers, J.L., McMahon, Gerard, Smith, K.E., Galeone, D.R., and Woodside, M.D., 1998, Water quality in the Albemarle-Pamlico drainage basin, North Carolina and Virginia, 1992-95: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1157, 36 p.


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