Nitrogen and phosphorous support the ecosystem by supplying nutrients to algae and aquatic plants. Having them in excess results in the eutrophication of waters creating quality problems. In the past, nitrogen has been widely investigated for wells in the context of groundwater flow. However, a national-scale nitrogen assessment in rivers and streams has not received enough attention. In this study, the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, a non-parametric hypothesis testing method, has been applied to nitrogen concentration in the form of nitrate-nitrogen and nitrite-nitrogen in rivers and streams of the Contiguous United States. This approach was particularly chosen because of the non-normal and positively skewed nitrogen levels occurring in the surface flow. This method was able to identify the impaired body of waters as well as quantify the confidence, significance, and errors involved. The Northern Appalachians (NAP), Northern Plains (NPL), and Xeric (XER) ecoregions were identified as the ecoregions worsening in the nitrogen-nitrate condition with NAP, and XER needed immediate action. The nitrite-nitrogen condition did not pose an immediate threat, so mitigation efforts should focus more on nitrate-nitrogen remediation. It was shown that the method was superior to the two-sample t-test by yielding lower type II errors.
- non-parametric hypothesis testing
- rivers and streams
- type II error
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology