• Runoff Water Quality from Varying Land Uses in Southeastern Arizona

      Schreiber, H. A.; Renard, K. G. (Society for Range Management, 1978-07-01)
      Surface runoff waters from three kinds of activity on rangeland were examined for suspended solids and some indicator chemical constituents. We compared ungrazed brush-covered rangeland with recently subdivided rangeland, originally and still partly brush-covered, but whose surface was disturbed by man's urbanizing influence. Water quality indicators showed the urbanized watersheds had poorer water quality. Comparisons between the two brush-covered watersheds and a third-grass-covered and grazed-were made only on the runoff water's dissolved constituents. Despite the grazing activity, the waters were of better quality. A contrast in the geology between the grass and brush areas suggested that mineral sources affected qualitative changes in the dissolved solids. Calcareous soils produced waters higher in Ca and total dissolved solids and lower in other cations. Phosphate in runoff averaged higher from the grass-covered, noncalcareous area than from the brush-covered calcareous watershed. We hypothesize now that the phosphate originated from soil sources, rather than from grazing activity. Nitrate levels were comparable in runoff from all the nonurban areas, but increased in runoff from the semiurban area. Thus, the nonagricultural complex of activities associated with a housing development was more detrimental to water quality than those from undisturbed or grazed rangelands.