Dissolved inorganic and organic nutrients and physiochemical parameters were measured in 24 Hawai‘i Island streams. Particulate nutrients and instantaneous nutrient and sediment fluxes were measured in half of these streams. Stream waters were dilute and slightly alkaline and had low concentrations of ammonium, orthophosphate, dissolved organic phosphorus, and total suspended solids. Particulate matter comprised 45%, 73%, and 28% of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon pools, respectively. Dissolved nitrogen was comprised primarily of organic nitrogen (54%) and nitrate (34%). In some streams, nitrate and total nitrogen concentrations were slightly elevated relative to Hawai‘i Department of Health (HDOH) water quality standards. Instantaneous nitrate yields for the streams plus 26 HDOH stations were calculated, and the average from the combined data set was 7.1 (SD 11.1) moles N day-1 km-2. Nitrate concentrations and yields were 2.1 and 3.5 times higher, respectively, in Kohala watersheds than in Mauna Kea watersheds. Regression analysis was used to evaluate whether water quality parameters are predicted by watershed area, mean annual rainfall, population density, or percentage of agricultural land. Many water quality parameters were not predicted by these variables. In Mauna Kea streams, concentrations of dissolved organic nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon increased with increasing watershed area, nitrate concentrations increased with increasing population density, and both specific conductivity and nitrate yield increased with increasing percentage of agricultural lands. In Kohala streams, nitrate concentrations and yields were not predicted by watershed characteristics. Overall, watershed characteristics, as quantified in this study, were not strong predictors of water quality.
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Vol. 65 • No. 2