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Sediment and Phosphorus Loading from Protected and Unprotected Streambanks in Eastern Oklahoma

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131596591,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Garey A Fox, Ronald B Miller, Sharla Lovern, Rebecca Purvis, Chad J Penn
Keywords:   Illinois River Watershed; Ozark Ecoregion; Phosphorus; Riparian Vegetation; Sediment; Streambank Erosion

Abstract. Nutrients and excessive sediment are two main nonpoint source pollutants in the United States. In some watersheds, the majority of the total sediment load to streams and rivers is from streambank erosion. The presence of riparian vegetation can significantly decrease streambank erosion in some locations. Streambank erosion and failure may be one pathway for phosphorus (P) loading to streams, but insufficient data exists on actual loading from this source and the potential protective effect of riparian vegetation in most watersheds. The objective of this research was to characterize the distribution of soil phosphorus concentrations in streambanks both with and without implemented riparian protection in the Barren Fork Creek watershed in eastern Oklahoma and to estimate P loading due to bank erosion. Barren Fork Creek is a state-designated Scenic River in Oklahoma where soil phosphorus (P) levels are potentially high due to historic poultry litter application. Streambank soil samples were collected at three transects and at four vertical locations at six different reaches. The core samples were collected up to 50 cm into the bank at each location, and were analyzed for water-soluble phosphorus (WSP), pH, and electrical conductivity (EC). Contour plots of streambank phosphorus concentrations illustrated considerable differences among reaches relative to adjacent land use. Lateral bank erosion over a seven year period (2003-2010) was estimated using NAIP aerial imagery. Average streambank migration rates were approximately 8 m for the three sites with riparian protection compared to 45 m for the three sites without riparian protection over the seven year period. A helicopter video reconnaissance of the Barren Fork Creek watershed in Oklahoma estimated the percent of the banks that were failing to be approximately 38% of the total length (considering left and right banks). Consequently, streambank erosion represents a significant source of phosphorus entering Barren Fork Creek and eventually impacting water supply reservoirs. Total water soluble phosphorus from streambanks on the Barren Fork Creek from unprotected and failing banks is approximately 1540 kg per year, which represents approximately 10% of the estimated total dissolved phosphorus load.

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