Upstream from Lake Altus, the North Fork Red River drains an area of 2,515 square miles. The quantity and quality of surface water are major concerns at Lake Altus, and water-resource managers and consumers need historical information to make informed decisions about future development. The Lugert-Altus Irrigation District relies on withdrawals from the lake to sustain nearly 46,000 acres of agricultural land.
Kendall's tau tests of precipitation data indicated no statistically significant trend over the entire 100 years of available record. However, a significant increase in precipitation occurred in the last 51 years. Four streamflow-gaging stations with more than 10 years of record were maintained in the basin. These stations recorded no significant trends in annual streamflow volume. Two stations, however, had significant increasing trends in the base-flow index, and three had significant decreasing trends in annual peak flows.
Major-ion chemistry in the North Fork Red River is closely related to the chemical composition of the underlying bedrock. Two main lithologies are represented in the basin upstream from Lake Altus. In the upper reaches, young and poorly consolidated sediments include a range of sizes from coarse gravel to silt and clay. Nearsurface horizons commonly are cemented as calcium carbonate caliche. Finer-grained gypsiferous sandstones and shales dominate the lower reaches of the basin. A distinct increase in dissolved solids, specifically sodium, chloride, calcium, and sulfate, occurs as the river flows over rocks that contain substantial quantities of gypsum, anhydrite, and dolomite. These natural salts are the major dissolved constituents in the North Fork Red River.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Changes in streamflow and summary of major-ion chemistry and loads in the North Fork Red River basin upstream from Lake Altus, northwestern Texas and western Oklahoma, 1945-1999