In 2010, data on physical habitat, water quality, and riverine biological assemblages were collected at selected reaches in four locations (Kleven, Sheyenne, Cooperstown, and West Fargo) on the Sheyenne River in east-central North Dakota. Three of the locations (Kleven, Sheyenne, and Cooperstown) are above Baldhill Dam and one location (West Fargo) is below Baldhill Dam on the Sheyenne River. The 2010 data provide information to establish a better understanding of the water-quality and ecological conditions of the Sheyenne River. Concerns were raised about the water-quality and ecological conditions of the Sheyenne River because of the interbasin transfer of water from nearby Devils Lake. The transfer of water from Devils Lake to the Sheyenne River occurs through the Devils Lake State Outlet near Peterson Coulee or, if lake elevations exceed 1,459 feet above National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29), through a natural outlet, Tolna Coulee. The field measurements of water-quality characteristics and results of chemical analyses generally are comparable to summary statistics calculated for Sheyenne River for 1980 through 2006. Overall, water-quality results show differences between the Kleven, Sheyenne, Cooperstown, and West Fargo reaches. Sulfate concentrations were less than the State of North Dakota criterion of 750 milligrams per liter for the upper Sheyenne River above Baldhill Dam and less than the criterion of 450 milligrams per liter for the lower Sheyenne River below Baldhill Dam. Arsenic concentrations at most reaches exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standard of 10 micrograms per liter. Nutrient concentrations (nitrogen, phosphorus) were higher in the upper Sheyenne River above Baldhill Dam than below Baldhill Dam where concentrations decreased by about half. In 2010, 35 families and 44 genera of benthic macroinvertebrates were collected and identified. On the basis of the index of biotic intergrity scores for benthic macroinvertebrate communities present in the Sheyenne River, all the reaches were determined to have condition classes of moderately disturbed to most disturbed. The benthic macroinvertebrate communities at the Cooperstown reaches were classed as moderately disturbed, whereas benthic macroinvertebrate communities at the Kleven, Sheyenne, West and Fargo reaches were most disturbed. During data collection, 37 genera and 165 species of periphyton (diatoms and soft-bodied algae) were collected and identified. In periphyton communities, similar taxa species were dominant in the Kleven, Sheyenne, and Cooperstown reaches, and different taxa species were dominant in the West Fargo reaches. For diatoms, the Kleven 3 reach had the lowest species richness value of 33.0, whereas the Cooperstown 8 reach had the highest species richness value of 57.0. For soft-bodied algae, the species richness values ranged from 8.0 at the Sheyenne 4 reach to 20.0 at the West Fargo 10 reach. During the fish collection, 32 species, representing 10 families, were collected in the Sheyenne River. All but two species are native to the Sheyenne River system. Common carp and white crappie are the two introduced species. Of the 32 species, 29 are tolerant to moderately tolerant to changes in water quality and habitat degradation, 16 species are tolerant to moderately tolerant to turbidity, and 16 species are tolerant to moderately tolerant to sensitivity to total dissolved solids, sulfate, and chloride. All fish species were categorized into four trophic groups. The largest group of 19 species was the insectivores (both benthic and general). The predator group consisted of seven species, and the omnivores consisted of six species. More fish were found in the lower Sheyenne River below Baldhill Dam than in the upper Sheyenne River above Baldhill Dam.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Physical habitat, water quality, and riverine biological assemblages of selected reaches of the Sheyenne River, North Dakota, 2010
Scientific Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey
Dakota Water Science Center, North Dakota Water Science Center