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Grand Lake St. Marys watershed has drawn attention over the past decade as water quality issues resulting from nutrient loading have come to the forefront of public opinion, political concern, and scientific study. The objective of this study was to assess long-term changes in water quality (nutrient and sediment concentrations) following the distressed watershed rules package instituted in 2011. Since that time, a variety of rules (e.g., winter manure ban) and best management practices (cover crops, manure storage or transfers, buffers, etc.) have been implemented. We used a general linear model to assess variation in total suspended solids, particulate phosphorus, soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), nitrate N, and total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations from daily Chickasaw Creek (drains ∼25% of watershed) samples spanning 2008 to 2016. Parameters were related to flow (higher values during high flows), timing (lower values during winter months), and the implementation of the distressed watershed rules package (lower values following implementation). Overall, reductions following the distressed designation for all parameters ranged from 5 to 35% during medium and high flow periods (with exception of SRP). Reductions were even more pronounced during winter months covered by the manure ban, where all parameters (including SRP) exhibited decreases at medium and high flows between 20 and 60%. While the reductions seen in this study are significant, concentrations are still highly elevated and continue to be a problem. We are optimistic that this study will serve to inform future management in the region and elsewhere.


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