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Map of North Carolina highlighting the project study area

Project Overview

Full Title
Water Quality in the Haw and Deep Rivers, Upper Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina

Upper Cape Fear River Basin

Cooperating Agencies
Upper Cape Fear River Basin Association

Project Chief
Philip Jen

Period of Project

Team Members

Ryan Rasmussen


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Water Quality in the Haw and Deep Rivers

This project was completed in 2004. These pages are for historical purposes only.

Project Summary


The Upper Cape Fear River Basin Association (UCFRBA) has established a 44-station water-quality sampling network in the 3,100 square-mile (mi2) upper Cape Fear River basin in North Carolina. The basin encompasses the drainage area above the confluence of the Haw and Deep Rivers. The network was established under an agreement with the North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and supersedes the DWQ in-stream monitoring requirements for point-source discharge facilities that participate in the UCFRBA monitoring program.

To supplement existing data, information is needed on discharge and water quality at selected sites in the basin not directly affected by point sources. Of special importantance are water-quality data for two major branches of the Cape Fear River to document seasonal and annual water-quality conditions in the upper part of the basin. These data, together with data collected for the Lower Cape Fear River Program and Middle Cape Fear River Basin Association, will provide water-resource managers with a regional perspective on water quality in the Cape Fear River basin.


The primary objective during this 2-year project is to assess nutrient and sediment loads on two major rivers in the upper Cape Fear River basin. Water-quality samples will be collected on the Haw River just above Jordan Lake and at the mouth of the Deep River with an emphasis on obtaining concentrations during runoff periods. Although water-quality conditions vary from year to year based on regional hydrologic conditions, 2 years of data collection will provide useful information about the relation between discharge and sediment and nutrient concentrations, which will help to characterize current water-quality conditions in the two rivers.


The water-quality samples, including suspended sediment, nutrients, and other selected chemical constituents, will be collected using standard USGS methods. Equal-width and depth integrated (EWI) sampling will be conducted, and clean collection and processing techniques will be employed (N.C. District Operating Procedures and Guidelines, Chap. B; U.S. Geological Survey, 1997 to present). The EWI collection method insures that samples are representative of the entire stream cross section. This is particularly important for the wide streams proposed in this study that may not be well mixed at point-source locations during high-flow conditions.

A two-person team is required when using EWI and clean methods. Where possible, samples are collected with a D-81 sampler by wading the cross section. If wading is not possible, the sample is collected from a bridge or cableway with a DH-95 sampler (or heavier sampler, if velocities necessitate) suspended from a bridgeboard or crane. At the Haw River at Bynum, sampling is conducted during high flow by either using stream-crossing equipment at the gage or from the pedestrian bridge at Bynum. The Deep River site is sampled at the US-1 bridge. At times, a third team member is needed to assist with traffic safety.

Physical properties, such as water temperature and pH, are measured in the field, verified, and entered into the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS). Samples to be analyzed for chemical properties are processed in the field for shipment to the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory where the samples are quality assured and analyzed, and the analytical records are released to the District and entered automatically into NWIS. The data are published in the USGS annual data report for North Carolina (U.S. Geological Survey, 2002).

References cited

U.S. Geological Survey, 1997 to present, National field manual for the collection of water-quality data: U.S. Geolgical Survey Techniquest of Water-Resources Investigations, book 9, chaps. A1-A9, 2v., variously paged.
Chapters are updated continuously

U.S. Geological Survey, published annually. Water resources data, North Carolina, water year 2002: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Data Report NC-02-1A, B [independently paged volumes].
All water-quality sampling data collected during this investigation will be published in the U.S. Geologcial Survey Annual Data Report for North Carolina

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