Water-quality data collected from 1993-99 at five sites on Bluff, Deer, and Chisholm Creeks and from 1988-99 at five sites in the North Canadian River indicated that there were significant differences in constituent values among sites for water properties, major ions, trace elements, nutrients, turbidity, pesticides, and bacteria. Concentrations of dissolved solids and sulfate generally decreased as streams flowed through the Oklahoma City urban area. Concentrations of organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus compounds, lindane, and 2,4-D, and frequencies of detection of pesticides increased in the North Canadian River as it flowed through the urban area. Volatile organic compounds were not detected in samples collected quarterly from 1988-90 at sites on the North Canadian River. Concentrations of some compounds, including dissolved oxygen, sulfate, chloride, ammonia, manganese, diazinon, dieldrin, and fecal coliform bacteria periodically exceeded Federal or state water-quality standards at some sites.
Regression analyses were used to identify trends in constituent concentrations related to streamflow, season, and time. Trends for some constituents were indicated at all sites, but most trends were site-specific. Seasonal trends were evident for several constituents: suspended solids, organic nitrogen, and biochemical oxygen demand were greatest during summer. Dissolved oxygen, ammonia, and nitrite plus nitrate-nitrogen were greatest during winter. Concentrations of dissolved oxygen, fluoride, sulfate, total suspended solids, iron, and manganese generally increased with time. Concentrations of chloride, nitrite plus nitrate-nitrogen, dissolved phosphorus, dissolved orthophosphate, biochemical oxygen demand, dieldrin, and lindane decreased with time. There was relatively little change in land use from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s due to relatively modest rates of population growth in the study area during that period. Most changes in water quality in these streams and rivers may be due to changes in chemical use and wastewater treatment practices.
The sampling network was evaluated with respect to areal coverage, sampling frequency, and analytical schedules. Areal coverage could be expanded to include one additional watershed that is not part of the current network. A new sampling site on the North Canadian River might be useful because of expanding urbanization west of the city, but sampling at some other sites could be discontinued or reduced based on comparisons of data between the sites. Additional real-time or periodic monitoring for dissolved oxygen may be useful to prevent anoxic conditions in pools behind new low-water dams. The sampling schedules, both monthly and quarterly, are adequate to evaluate trends, but additional sampling during flow extremes may be needed to quantify loads and evaluate water quality during flow extremes. Emerging water-quality issues may require sampling for volatile organic compounds, sulfide, total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, Escherichia coli, and enterococci, as well as use of more sensitive laboratory analytical methods for determination of cadmium, mercury, lead, and silver.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Statistical analysis of stream water-quality data and sampling network design near Oklahoma City, central Oklahoma, 1977-1999