Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James Fox


Watershed features, physiographic setting, geology, climate, and hydrologic processes combine to produce a time-variant nutrient concentration signal at the watershed outlet. Anthropogenic influences, such as increased agricultural pressures and urbanization, have increased overall nutrient loadings delivered to the fluvial network. The impact of such increased nutrient loadings on Kentucky’s drinking water remains a potential threat to the region.

By coupling spatial sampling of nitrate concentrations in surface water with contemporary nutrient and water quality sensor technology, a decomposition of the Upper South Elkhorn watershed’s nitrate signal and an estimation of source timing and loading in the watershed was completed. The goal of the project was the decomposition of the integrated nitrate signal observed at the outlet of the Upper South Elkhorn watershed into contributing runoff and groundwater sources from agricultural/pasture and urban/suburban land-uses.

Decomposing the watershed’s nitrate signal yielded new knowledge learned about nitrate source, fate and transport in immature fluviokarst. This thesis discusses how mean, seasonal, and fluctuating nitrate behavior is related to soil processes, groundwater transfer, streambed removal, and event dynamics. It is expected that the decomposition of the nitrate signal will allow for the targeting of both the timing and sources for nutrient reductions in a watershed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Robert A. and Maywin S. Lauderdale Fellowship