Concentrations and characteristics of organic carbon in surface water in Arizona: Influence of urbanization

Paul Westerhoff, D. Anning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Dissolved (DOC) and total (TOC) organic carbon concentrations and compositions were studied for several river systems in Arizona, USA. DOC composition was characterized by ultraviolet and visible absorption and fluorescence emission (excitation wavelength of 370 nm) spectra characteristics. Ephemeral sites had the highest DOC concentrations, and unregulated perennial sites had lower concentrations than unregulated intermittent sites, regulated sites, and sites downstream from wastewater-treatment plants (p < 0.05). Reservoir outflows and wastewater-treatment plant effluent were higher in DOC concentration (p < 0.05) and exhibited less variability in concentration than inflows to the reservoirs. Specific ultraviolet absorbance values at 254 nm were typically less than 2 m-1(milligram DOC per liter)-1 and lower than values found in most temperate-region rivers, but specific ultraviolet absorbance values increased during runoff events. Fluorescence measurements indicated that DOC in desert streams typically exhibit characteristics of autochthonous sources; however, DOC in unregulated upland rivers and desert streams experienced sudden shifts from autochthonous to allochthonous sources during runoff events. The urban water system (reservoir systems and wastewater-treatment plants) was found to affect temporal variability in DOC concentration and composition. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-222
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 30 2000


  • Arid watershed
  • Fluorescence
  • Hydrology
  • Organic carbon
  • Ultraviolet
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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