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Salinity in surface water in the Red River of the North basin, northeastern North Dakota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4082

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Abstract

Saline ground-water discharge from bedrock aquifers collects in wetlands that drain into tributaries of the Red River of the North (Red River). The Turtle, Forest, and Park Rivers are the major contributors of salinity to the Red River. These three rivers drain areas of wetlands affected by ground-water discharge from bedrock and by direct evapotranspiration.

This report describes the effect of tributaries in northeastern North Dakota on the quality of water in the Red River and examines the possible processes that affect salinity in tributaries and wetlands in the area. Streamflow and specific-conductance measurements were made at the mouths of the three tributaries and at streamflow-gaging stations on the Red River at Grand Forks and at Drayton during the fall and winter of 1992-93. During this low-flow period, the three tributaries accounted for about 1.2 percent of the total Streamflow in the Red River at Drayton, yet contributed an average of 17 percent (at times up to 43 percent) of the dissolved-solids load.

Long-term Streamflow records at Grand Forks and at Drayton show that less than 15 percent of the annual Streamflow in the Red River at Drayton occurs during November through February. However, long-term specific-conductance measurements show an increase in dissolved-solids concentrations during this period. In addition, records indicate that there is an average increase in dissolved-solids load in the Red River between Grand Forks and Drayton of 35 percent during November through February. This increase is attributed to inflow from the Turtle, Forest, and Park Rivers.

The salinity in the Turtle, Forest, and Park Rivers may be attributed to natural ground-water discharge and flowing wells, leaching of surface sediments, and contributions from wetlands that have large dissolved-solids concentrations because of evapotranspiration.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Salinity in surface water in the Red River of the North basin, northeastern North Dakota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
95-4082
Year Published:
1995
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description:
iv, 14 p.