In 1990, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Environmental Quality, implemented a statewide water-quality monitoring program in response to Idaho‘s antidegradation policy as required by the Clean Water Act. The program objective is to provide water-quality managers with a coordinated statewide network to detect trends in surface-water quality.
The monitoring program includes the collection and analysis of samples from 56 sites on the Bear, Clearwater, Kootenai, Pend Oreille, Salmon, Snake, and Spokane Rivers and their tributaries (fig. 1). Samples are collected every year at 5 sites (annual sites) in drainage basins where long-term water-quality management is practiced, every other year at 19 sites (biennial sites) in basins where land and water uses change slowly, and every third year at 32 sites (triennial sites) where future development may affect water quality. Each year, 25 of the 56 sites are sampled. This report discusses results of sampling at five annual sites.
During water years 1990-93 (October 1, 1989, through September 30, 1993), samples were collected six times per year at the five annual sites (fig. 1). Onsite analyses were made for discharge, specific conductance, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, bacteria (fecal coliform and fecal streptococci), and alkalinity. Laboratory analyses were made for major ions, nutrients, trace elements, and suspended sediment. Suspended sediment, nitrate, fecal coliform, trace elements, and specific conductance were used to characterize surface-water quality. Because concentrations of all trace elements except zinc were near detection limits, only zinc is discussed.