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Investigating Water Quality Trends in Watersheds with Changing Conservation Adoption
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2022 Authors: Lucore A.E., Baker B.H., Hill M.J.

Alongside significant investments in agricultural conservation to address water quality degradation through US government programs is a need to assess conservation efficacy. Conservation practices such as cover crops and reduced tillage have been identified as management strategies with potential to improve water quality outcomes at the edge-of-field scale. However, documenting water quality improvements in impaired waters at the watershed scale is more difficult to monitor and detect. This study aims to address that data gap by assessing historical data in three impaired watersheds in conjunction with more current monitoring data following the implementation of cover crops and reduced tillage conservation practices to detect water quality trends. Historical water quality data was retrieved from U.S. Geological Survey monitoring stations over a ten-year period. Water quality data was also collected in the field by Mississippi State University at each monitoring location following the adoption of cover crops and reduced tillage in each watershed. Data collected from 2018-2020 in Porter Bayou (HUC12 080302071000 ) was analyzed at the Mississippi State Water Quality Laboratory and samples collected from Richies Bayou (HUC12 080302070303) and Overcup Slough (HUC12 080302070302) from 2020-2021 were analyzed at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Linear regressions will be utilized to explore trends in turbidity, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus concentrations overtime within in each watershed. Results of this study are expected to provide valuable information on water quality trends in impaired watersheds and provide insight for conservation planning.

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