Land use and land cover across 28 sub-basins within the Cosumnes Watershed, CA (1989 km2) were correlated to nitrate-N and total suspended solids (TSS) loading between water years 1999 and 2001. The impact of human development on stream water quality was evident as both agricultural area and population density predicted TSS loading in a linear mixed effects model. In contrast to the TSS model, the nitrate-N loading model was more complex with agriculture, grassland, and the presence or absence of waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) all contributing. The lack of correlation between population density and nitrate-N loading indicates that human habitation of the landscape does not impact stream nitrate levels until a WWTP is built within the sub-basin. During dry water years the models predict a linear reduction in TSS loading but the correlations to agriculture and population density remain positive. In contrast, nitrate is positively correlated to grasslands during average water years and negatively correlated during dry water years. Analysis of constituent fluxes from the upper watershed versus the lower watershed indicates that silica is derived primarily from the uplands and that during dry water years the upper watershed is an important source of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrate. The lower watershed contributes the majority of the sediment and nutrients during both dry and average water years, the one caveat being that during dry years the lower basin becomes a nitrate sink.