Elevated salinity in the North Fork Red River is a major concern of the Bureau of Reclamation W. C. Austin Project at Lake Altus. Understanding the relation between surface-water runoff, ground-water discharge, and surface-water quality is important for maintaining the beneficial use of water in the North Fork Red River basin. Agricultural practices, petroleum production, and natural dissolution of salt-bearing bedrock have the potential to influence the quality of nearby surface water.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, sampled stream discharge and water chemistry at 19 stations on the North Fork Red River and tributaries. To characterize surface-water resources of the basin in a systematic manner, samples were collected synoptically during receding streamflow conditions during July 8-11, 2002.
Together, sulfate and chloride usually constitute greater than half of the dissolved solids. Concentrations of sulfate ranged from 87.1 to 3,450 milligrams per liter. The minimum value was measured at McClellan Creek near Back (07301220), and the maximum value was measured at Bronco Creek near Twitty (07301303). Concentrations of chloride ranged from 33.2 to 786 milligrams per liter. The minimum value was measured at a North Fork Red River tributary (unnamed) near Twitty (07301310), and the maximum value was measured at the North Fork Red River near Back (07301190), the most upstream sample station.