The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires that applications for coal-mining permits contain information about the water quality of streams at and near a proposed mine. To meet this need for information, streamflow, specific conductance, pH, and concentrations of total alkalinity, sulfate, dissolved solids, suspended solids, total iron, and total manganese at 37 stations were analyzed to determine the spatial and seasonal variations in water quality and to develop equations for predicting water quality.
The season of lowest median streamflow was related to the size of the drainage area. Median streamflow was least during fall at 15 of 16 stations having drainage areas greater than 1,000 square miles but was least during summer at 17 of 21 stations having drainage areas less than 1,000 square miles. In general, the season of lowest median specific conductance occurred during the season of highest streamflow except at stations on the Wabash River. Median specific conductance was least during summer at 9 of 9 stations on the Wabash River, but was least during winter or spring (the seasons of highest streamflow) at 27 of the remaining 28 stations.
Linear, inverse, semilog, log-log, and hyperbolic regression models were used to investigate the functional relations between water-quality characteristics and streamflow. Of 186 relations investigated, 143 were statistically significant. Specific conductance and concentrations of total alkalinity and sulfate were negatively related to streamflow at all stations except for a positive relation between total alkalinity concentration and streamflow at Patoka River near Princeton. Concentrations of total alkalinity and sulfate were positively related to specific conductance at all stations except for a negative relation at Patoka River near Princeton and for a positive and negative relation at Patoka River at Jasper. Most of these relations are good, have small confidence intervals, and will give reliable predictions of the water-quality variables listed above. The poorest relations are typically at stations in the Patoka River watershed. Suspended-solids concentration was positively related to streamflow at all but two stations on the Patoka River.
These relations are poor, have large confidence intervals, and will give less reliable predictions of suspended-solids concentration. Predictive equations for the regional relations between dissolved-solids concentration and specific conductance and between sulfate concentration and specific conductance, and the seasonal patterns of water quality, are probably valid for the coal-mining regions of Illinois and western Kentucky.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Statistical analysis of surface-water-quality data in and near the coal-mining region of southwestern Indiana, 1957-80