As a result of the Dakota Water Resources Act of 2000, the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior, identified eight water-supply alternatives (including a no-action alternative) to meet future water needs in portions of the Red River of the North (Red River) Basin. Of those alternatives, four include the interbasin transfer of water from the Missouri River Basin to the Red River Basin. Three of the interbasin transfer alternatives would use the McClusky Canal, located in central North Dakota, to transport the water. Therefore, the water quality of the McClusky Canal and the sources of its water, Lake Sakakawea and Audubon Lake, is of interest to water-quality stakeholders.
The Bureau of Reclamation collected water-quality samples at 23 sites on Lake Sakakawea, Audubon Lake, and the McClusky Canal system from 1990 through 2003. Physical properties and water-quality constituents from these samples were summarized and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey using hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis (HACA). HACA separated the samples into related clusters, or groups. These groups were examined for statistical significance and relation to structure of the McClusky Canal system.
Statistically, the sample groupings found using HACA were significantly different from each other and appear to result from spatial and temporal water-quality differences corresponding with different sections of the canal and different operational conditions. Future operational changes of the canal system may justify additional water-quality sampling to characterize possible water-quality changes.