Hydrologic data for the Big Spring basin, Clayton County, Iowa; water year 1989

Open-File Report 91-63

Prepared in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Geological Survey Bureau)



Hydrologic data were collected in the Big Spring Basin located in Clayton County, Iowa, during the 1989 water year. The data were collected in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau, to provide information on variation and movement of agricultural chemicals in the hydrologic cycle in the Big Spring Basin. Precipitation, stream, and ground-water data were collected.

Total rainfall in the basin ranged from 20.0 to 24.4 inches. The greatest monthly rainfall was in August. Calcium and sulfate were the predominant ions in the rain and the median nitrate and ammonia concentrations as nitrogen were 0.40 and 0.63 mg/L (milligrams per liter), respectively.

Stream discharge, water temperature, specific conductance, and pH were monitored continuously, and monthly water-quality samples were collected at three sites in the basin. The predominant ions in Roberts Creek, at the site where it leaves the basin, were calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Nitrate plus nitrite as nitrogen concentrations ranged from 0.2 to 6.2 mg/L. Pesticide concentrations in 23 samples ranged from less than 0.10 μ/L (micrograms per liter) to 4.4 μ/L. Atrazine was detected in 100 percent of the samples, cyanazine and metolachlor in 43 percent of the samples and alachlor in 35 percent of the samples.

At Big Spring, the ground-water discharge point, the daily mean water temperature ranged from 5.1 to 10.6 degrees Celsius, the daily mean specific conductance ranged from 271 to 793 micro Siemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius, and the daily median pH ranged from 63 to 7.1. Calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate were the predominant ions in solution. Nitrate plus nitrite as nitrogen concentrations ranged from 2.0 to 7.4 mg/L. Atrazine was detected in 95 percent of the samples, cyanazine was detected in 26 percent of the samples, and metolachlor and alachlor were detected in 16 percent of the samples. The maximum atrazine concentration was 3.3 μ/L.

Water levels in the unconsolidated aquifers and the Galena aquifer were highest in the spring after snowmelt and in September after the greatest monthly rainfall. Water levels in the Saint Peter aquifer declined by approximately 0 J to 3.0 feet.

During a baseflow seepage study, August 16 and 17, the measured discharge lost by streams in the basin was 2.82 cubic feet per second, the measured dissolved nitrogen load lost was 80 pounds per day, and the measured atrazine load lost was 0.002 pound per day. The total measured discharge and total dissolved nitrogen load leaving the basin in streams was 0.07 cubic feet per second and less than 20 pounds per day, respectively.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic data for the Big Spring basin, Clayton County, Iowa; water year 1989
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Iowa Water Science Center
vi, 66 p.: ill., maps; 28 cm.
United States
Clayton County
Other Geospatial:
Big Spring basin
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