Improving water quality of Cheney Reservoir in south-central Kansas is an important objective of State and local water managers. The reservoir serves as a water supply for about 350,00 people in the Wichita area and an important recreational resource for the area. In 1992, a task force was formed to study and prepare a plan to identify and mitigate potential sources of stream contamination in the Cheney Reservoir watershed. This task force was established to develop stream-water-quality goals to aid in the development and implementation of best-management practices in the watershed. In 1996, the U.S. Geological Survey entered into a cooperative study with the city of Wichita to assess the water quality in the Cheney Reservoir watershed. Water-quality constituents of particular concern in the Cheney Reservoir watershed are phosphorus, nitrate, and total suspended solids. Water-quality samples were collected at five streamflow-gaging sites upstream from the reservoir and at the outflow of the reservoir. The purpose of this report is to present the results of a 4-year (1997-2000) data-collection effort to quantify the occurrence of phosphorus, nitrate, and suspended solids during base-flow, runoff, and long-term streamflow conditions (all available data for 1997-2000) and to compare these results to stream-water-quality goals established by the Cheney Reservoir Task Force. Mean concentrations of each of the constituents examined during this study exceeded the Cheney Reservoir Task Force stream-water-quality goal for at least one of the streamflow conditions evaluated. Most notably, mean base-flow and mean long-term concentrations of total phosphorus and mean base-flow concentrations of dissolved nitrate exceeded the goals of 0.05, 0.10, and 0.25 milligram per liter, respectively, at all five sampling sites upstream from the reservoir. Additionally, the long-term stream-water-quality goal for dissolved nitrate was exceeded by the mean concentration at one upstream sampling site, and the base-flow total suspended solids goal (20 milligrams per liter) and long-term total suspended solids goal (100 milligrams per liter) were each exceeded by mean concentrations at three upstream sampling sites. Generally, it seems unlikely that water-quality goals for streams in the Cheney Reservoir watershed will be attainable for mean base-flow and mean long-term total phosphorus and total suspended solids concentrations and for mean base-flow dissolved nitrate concentrations as long as current (2001) watershed conditions and practices persist. However, future changes in these conditions and practices that mitigate the transport of these consitutents may modify this conclusion.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Occurrence of phosphorus, nitrate, and suspended solids in streams of the Cheney Reservoir Watershed, south-central Kansas, 1997-2000