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Effects on water quality due to flood-water detention by Barker and Addicks Reservoirs, Houston, Texas

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4356

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Abstract

The Barker and Addicks Reservoirs, located about 16 mi west of Houston, Texas, provide flood detention storage for storm runoff. Of interest are the water quality characteristics in the study area and changes in water quality during detention. Study area sampling sites were selected upstream along Buffalo Bayou for Barker Reservoir and on Bear Creek and Langham Creek for Addicks Reservoir, within the reservoirs, near the reservoir outflows, and below the confluence of each reservoir outflow at the streamflow station Buffalo Bayou near Addicks. Flow data were available at all sites except in the reservoirs. Analyses of samples collected during both low flow and storm runoff show that in general, the water of the study areas was low in mineralization, but the aesthetics of the water was a problem. The inorganic constituents, trace metals, and pesticides rarely exceeded maximum contaminant levels recommended by the EPA for public supply using 1976 and 1977 criteria for primary and secondary standards. All species of nutrients, except ammonia nitrogen and phosphorus, almost always were below the recommended maximum contaminant levels. Large values of suspended solids, turbidity, and color were common. Possible bacterial problems are indicated because coliform bacteria densities exceeded recommended levels in about 25% of the samples. The effects of the reservoirs on the water quality characteristics of storm runoff were analyzed using three approaches: (1) a comparison of the discharge weighted average values of nine selected constituents at each streamflow-gaging station during four storms (biochemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, turbidity, color, total nitrogen, total organic carbon, dissolved solids and total phosphorus); (2) an analysis of the means of the discharge weighted average values computed for the four hydrologic events using the Student t-test, indicating that reservoir detention significantly reduced suspended solids; and (3) a comparison at each site of the mean, maximum, and minimum values computed for seven constituents that did not correlate with discharge. The only consistent water quality changes observed were with the three bacteria groups, which were decreased by flood water detention. (Lantz-PTT)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Effects on water quality due to flood-water detention by Barker and Addicks Reservoirs, Houston, Texas
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
86-4356
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1987
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
v, 96 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.