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The Chattahoochee River is the principal source of drinking water for metro-Atlanta. The river receives urban runoff and sewage discharge and is in an area of rapid growth in both urban sprawl and the poultry industry. Data was collected weekly at a sample station 50 mi (80 km) downstream of Atlanta for 310 days during a drought in 1999–2000 and again for 290 days during abundant rainfall in 2002–2003. Field parameters, fecal coliform bacteria, and nutrients were measured. One spill in 2000 of 1.5 million gal (5700 m 3) of sewage that occurred 50 mi (80 km) upstream of our sample station resulted in a nitrate-N spike. Nitrite-nitrate-N was elevated during drought (low-flow) conditions. It is difficult to quantify the role of chicken manure on water quality of an already impaired watershed. Nevertheless, nutrient runoff from chicken manure application on farmland increases total phosphorus load of streams. U.S. Geological Survey data for the Chattahoochee River indicate that although corrective measures have decreased phosphorus and ammonia, nitrite-nitrate-N has increased from 0.24 mg/l in 1971 to 2.3 mg/l in 2002.
Curtis L. Hollabaugh is professor of geology and chair of the Department of Geosciences, State University of West Georgia. He teaches geology, mineralogy, geochemistry, environmental geochemistry, and environmental studies. He has a B.S. degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Washington State University. Research is on watershed assessments in the Piedmont and Valley and Ridge of Georgia.Randa R. Harris is a research scientist at the State University of West Georgia. She has a B.S. degree from State University of West Georgia (UWG) and an M.S. degree from University of Tennessee. She is now supervising laboratory and fieldwork for long-term monitoring of water quality for the Center for Water Resources in the Department of Geosciences at UWG.
Jason A. Jackson has a B.S. degree in geology from the State University of West Georgia. He is now employed by the Georgia Department of Transportation.