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Regression analysis and real-time water-quality monitoring to estimate constituent concentrations, loads, and yields in the Little Arkansas River, south-central Kansas, 1995-99

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4126

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Abstract

Water from the Little Arkansas River is used as source water for artificial recharge to the Equus Beds aquifer, which provides water for the city of Wichita in south-central Kansas. To assess the quality of the source water, continuous in-stream water-quality monitors were installed at two U.S. Geological Survey stream-gaging stations to provide real-time measurement of specific conductance, pH, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity in the Little Arkansas River. In addition, periodic water samples were collected manually and analyzed for selected constituents, including alkalinity, dissolved solids, total suspended solids, chloride, sulfate, atrazine, and fecal coliform bacteria. However, these periodic samples do not provide real-time data on which to base aquifer-recharge operational decisions to prevent degradation of the Equus Beds aquifer. Continuous and periodic monitoring enabled identification of seasonal trends in selected physical properties and chemical constituents and estimation of chemical mass transported in the Little Arkansas River. Identification of seasonal trends was especially important because high streamflows have a substantial effect on chemical loads and because concentration data from manually collected samples often were not available. Therefore, real-time water-quality monitoring of surrogates for the estimation of selected chemical constituents in streamflow can increase the accuracy of load and yield estimates and can decrease some manual data-collection activities. Regression equations, which were based on physical properties and analysis of water samples collected from 1995 through 1998 throughout 95 percent of the stream's flow duration, were developed to estimate alkalinity, dissolved solids, total suspended solids, chloride, sulfate, atrazine, and fecal coliform bacteria concentrations. Error was evaluated for the first year of data collection and each subsequent year, and a decrease in error was observed as the number of samples increased. Generally, 2 years of data (35 to 55 samples) collected throughout 90 to 95 percent of the stream's flow duration were sufficient to define the relation between a constituent and its surrogate(s). Relations and resulting equations were site specific. To test the regression equations developed from the first 3 years of data collection (1995-98), the equations were applied to the fourth year of data collection (1999) to calculate estimated constituent loads and the errors associated with these loads. Median relative percentage differences between measured constituent loads determined using the analysis of periodic, manual water samples and estimated constituent loads were less than 25 percent for alkalinity, dissolved solids, chloride, and sulfate. The percentage differences for total suspended solids, atrazine, and bacteria loads were more than 25 percent. Even for those constituents with large relative percentage differences between the measured and estimated loads, the estimation of constituent concentrations with regression analysis and real-time water-quality monitoring has numerous advantages over periodic manual sampling. The timely availability of bacteria and other constituent data may be important when considering recreation and the whole-body contact criteria established by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for a specific water body. In addition, water suppliers would have timely information to use in adjusting water-treatment strategies; environmental changes could be assessed in time to prevent negative effects on fish or other aquatic life; and officials for the Equus Beds Ground-Water Recharge Demonstration project could use this information to prevent the possible degradation of the Equus Beds aquifer by choosing not to recharge when constituent concentrations in the source water are large. Constituent loads calculated from the regression equations may be useful for calculating total maximum daily loads (TMDL's), wh

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Regression analysis and real-time water-quality monitoring to estimate constituent concentrations, loads, and yields in the Little Arkansas River, south-central Kansas, 1995-99
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2000-4126
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2000
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Information Services [distributor],
Description:
vi, 36 p. :ill. (some col.), col. maps ;28 cm.