The Buffalo River and its tributary Bear Creek are in the White River Basin in the Ozark Plateaus in north-central Arkansas. Analysis of streamflow measurements and water-quality samples at a site on Bear Creek and a site on the Buffalo River in Searcy County, Arkansas, quantify differences between the two sites during calendar years 1999 and 2000. Streamflow and water quality also vary seasonally at each site. Mean annual streamflow was substantially larger at the Buffalo River site (836 and 719 cubic feet per second in 1999 and 2000) than at the Bear Creek site (56 and 63 cubic feet per second). However, during times of low flow, discharge of Bear Creek comprises a larger proportion of the flow of the Buffalo River. Concentrations of nutrients, fecal-indicator bacteria, dissolved organic carbon, and suspended sediment generally were greater in samples from Bear Creek than in samples from the Buffalo River. Statistically significant differences were detected in concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate, total nitrogen, dissolved phosphorus, orthophosphorus, total phosphorus, fecal coliform bacteria, and suspended sediment. Loads varied between sites, hydrologic conditions, seasons, and years. Loads were substantially higher for the Buffalo River than for Bear Creek (as would be expected because of the Buffalo?s higher streamflow). Loads contributed by surface runoff usually comprised more than 85 percent of the annual load. Constituent yields (loads divided by drainage area) were much more similar between sites than were loads. Flow-weighted concentrations and dissolved constituent yields generally were greater for Bear Creek than yields for the Buffalo River and flowweighted concentrations yields were higher than typical flow-weighted concentrations and yields in undeveloped basins, but lower than flow-weighted concentrations and yields at a site in a more developed basin.
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USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic characteristics of Bear Creek near Silver Hill and Buffalo River near St. Joe, Arkansas, 1999-2000