Continuous water-quality monitoring and regression analysis to estimate constituent concentrations and loads in the Red River of the North at Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota, 2003-12

Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5064
Prepared in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, City of Fargo, City of Moorhead, City of Grand Forks, and City of East Grand Forks
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Abstract

The Red River of the North (hereafter referred to as “Red River”) Basin is an important hydrologic region where water is a valuable resource for the region’s economy. Continuous water-quality monitors have been operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, City of Fargo, City of Moorhead, City of Grand Forks, and City of East Grand Forks at the Red River at Fargo, North Dakota, from 2003 through 2012 and at Grand Forks, N.Dak., from 2007 through 2012. The purpose of the monitoring was to provide a better understanding of the water-quality dynamics of the Red River and provide a way to track changes in water quality. Regression equations were developed that can be used to estimate concentrations and loads for dissolved solids, sulfate, chloride, nitrate plus nitrite, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment using explanatory variables such as streamflow, specific conductance, and turbidity.


Specific conductance was determined to be a significant explanatory variable for estimating dissolved solids concentrations at the Red River at Fargo and Grand Forks. The regression equations provided good relations between dissolved solid concentrations and specific conductance for the Red River at Fargo and at Grand Forks, with adjusted coefficients of determination of 0.99 and 0.98, respectively. Specific conductance, log-transformed streamflow, and a seasonal component were statistically significant explanatory variables for estimating sulfate in the Red River at Fargo and Grand Forks. Regression equations provided good relations between sulfate concentrations and the explanatory variables, with adjusted coefficients of determination of 0.94 and 0.89, respectively.


For the Red River at Fargo and Grand Forks, specific conductance, streamflow, and a seasonal component were statistically significant explanatory variables for estimating chloride. For the Red River at Grand Forks, a time component also was a statistically significant explanatory variable for estimating chloride. The regression equations for chloride at the Red River at Fargo provided a fair relation between chloride concentrations and the explanatory variables, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.66 and the equation for the Red River at Grand Forks provided a relatively good relation between chloride concentrations and the explanatory variables, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.77.


Turbidity and streamflow were statistically significant explanatory variables for estimating nitrate plus nitrite concentrations at the Red River at Fargo and turbidity was the only statistically significant explanatory variable for estimating nitrate plus nitrite concentrations at Grand Forks. The regression equation for the Red River at Fargo provided a relatively poor relation between nitrate plus nitrite concentrations, turbidity, and streamflow, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.46. The regression equation for the Red River at Grand Forks provided a fair relation between nitrate plus nitrite concentrations and turbidity, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.73. Some of the variability that was not explained by the equations might be attributed to different sources contributing nitrates to the stream at different times. Turbidity, streamflow, and a seasonal component were statistically significant explanatory variables for estimating total phosphorus at the Red River at Fargo and Grand Forks. The regression equation for the Red River at Fargo provided a relatively fair relation between total phosphorus concentrations, turbidity, streamflow, and season, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.74. The regression equation for the Red River at Grand Forks provided a good relation between total phosphorus concentrations, turbidity, streamflow, and season, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.87.


For the Red River at Fargo, turbidity and streamflow were statistically significant explanatory variables for estimating suspended-sediment concentrations. For the Red River at Grand Forks, turbidity was the only statistically significant explanatory variable for estimating suspended-sediment concentration. The regression equation at the Red River at Fargo provided a good relation between suspended-sediment concentration, turbidity, and streamflow, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.95. The regression equation for the Red River at Grand Forks provided a good relation between suspended-sediment concentration and turbidity, with an adjusted coefficient of determination of 0.96.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Continuous water-quality monitoring and regression analysis to estimate constituent concentrations and loads in the Red River of the North at Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota, 2003-12
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2014-5064
DOI 10.3133/sir20145064
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description vi, 37 p.
Time Range Start 2003-01-01
Time Range End 2012-12-31
Country United States
State North Dakota
City Grand Forks;Fargo
Other Geospatial Red River Of The North
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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