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Water quality of the Yadkin-Peedee River system, North Carolina--Variability, pollution loads, and long-term trends

Water-Supply Paper 2185-E
By D.A. Harned and Dann Meyer


Interpretation of water quality data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey and the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, for the Yadkin-Pee Dee River system, has identified water quality variations, characterized the current condition of the river in reference to water quality standards, estimated the degree of pollution caused by man, and evaluated long-term trends in concentrations of major dissolved constituents. Three stations, Yadkin River at Yadkin College (02116500), Rocky River near Norwood (02126000), and Pee Dee River near Rockingham (02129000) have been sampled over different periods of time beginning in 1906. Overall, the ambient water quality of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River system is satisfactory for most water uses. Iron and manganese concentrations are often above desirable levels, but they are not unusually high in comparison to other North Carolina streams. Lead concentrations also periodically rise above the recommended criterion for domestic water use. Mercury concentrations frequently exceed, and pH levels fall below, the recommended criteria for protection of aquatic life. Dissolved oxygen levels, while generally good, are lowest at the Pee Dee near Rockingham, due to the station 's location not far downstream from a lake. Suspended sediment is the most significant water quality problem of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River. The major cation in the river is sodium and the major anions are bicarbonate and carbonate. Eutrophication is currently a problem in the Yadkin-Pee Dee, particularly in High Rock Lake. An estimated nutrient and sediment balance of the system indicates that lakes along the Yadkin-Pee Dee River serve as a sink for sediment, ammonia, and phosphorus. Pollution makes up approximately 59% of the total dissolved solids load of the Yadkin River at Yadkin College, 43% for the Rocky River near Norwood, and 29% for the Pee Dee River near Rockingham. Statistically significant trends show a pattern of increasing concentration of most dissolved constituents over time, with a leveling off and decline in the middle to late 1970's.


Harned, D.A., and Meyer, Dann, 1983, Water quality of the Yadkin-Peedee River system, North Carolina-Variability, pollution loads, and long-term trends, in Water quality of North Carolina streams: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2185-E, 71 p.

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