Chemical quality of surface waters and sedimentation in the Saline River basin, Kansas

Water Supply Paper 1651

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This report gives the results of an investigation of the sediment and dissolved minerals that are transported by the Saline River and its tributaries. The Saline River basin is in western and central Kansas; it is long and narrow and covers 3,420 square miles of rolling plains, which is broken in some places by escarpments and small areas of badlands. In the western part the uppermost bedrock consists predominantly of calcareous elastic sedimentary rocks of continental origin of Pliocene age and in most places is covered by eolian deposits of Pleistocene and Recent age. In the central part the ex posed bedrock consists predominantly of calcareous marine sedimentary rocks of Late Cretaceous age. In the eastern part the exposed bedrock consists mainly of noncalcareous continental and littoral elastic sedimentary rocks of Early Cretaceous and Permian age. Fluvial deposits are in the valleys, and eolian materials are present over much of the uplands. Average precipitation increases rather uniformly from about 18 inches per year in the west to almost 28 inches per year in the east. Runoff is not affected by irrigation nor regulated by large structures, but it is closely related to precipitation. Average runoff increases from less than 0.2 inch per year in the west to more than 1.5 inches per year in the east. Aquifers of the flood-plain and terrace deposits and of the Cretaceous Dakota Sandstone are the major sources of ground-water accretion to the streams. In the upper reaches of the Saline River, the water is only slightly mineralized; during the period of record the specific conductance near Wakeeney never exceeded 750 micromhos per centimeter. In the lower reaches, however, the water is slightly mineralized during periods of high flow and is highly mineralized during periods of low flow; the specific conductance near Russell exceeded 1,500 micromhos per centimeter more than 80 percent of the time. Near Russell, near Wilson, and at Tescott the water is of the calcium bicarbonate type when the specific conductance is less than about 1,000 micromhos per centimeter, but it is of the sodium chloride type when the specific conductance is more than about 1,500 micromhos per centimeter. The water is off the calcium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium chloride type when the conductance is between 1,000 and 1,500 micromhos per centimeter. Most of the increase in mineralization of the water is caused by inflow of highly mineralized ground water. The ground-water inflow was estimated to be 22 percent of the total streamflow at Tescott in 1948 and 60 percent in 1952. Mineralization increases and water quality deteriorates progressively downstream along nearly the entire Saline River, especially in the part of the area directly underlain by the Dakota Sandstone between the vicinities of Fairport and Wilson: sodium and chloride are the principal constituents of water contributed by the Dakota. The total percentage of the salt in the Saline River that comes from oil-field brines is considered to be small. The water in the upper Saline River is of good quality for domestic use except that it is hard; the water in the lower Saline River is of poor quality for domestic use because most of the time it is highly mineralized, is hard, and contains high concentrations of chloride and sulfate. In the upper reaches of the river, the water is of good quality for irrigation. In the lower reaches, if the water were impounded in a reservoir, it would be of good quality for irrigation during years of high flow and of very poor quality during years of low flow. The water in the lower reaches is of poor quality for industrial use because it is highly mineralized most of the tinge. Relations of suspended-sediment discharge to water discharge were used with the long-term streamflow duration curves to compute the long-term aver age suspended-sediment discharges and concentrations at five indications. Sediment discharge is closely related to runoff. S

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USGS Numbered Series
Chemical quality of surface waters and sedimentation in the Saline River basin, Kansas
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Water Supply Paper
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U.S. G.P.O.,
v, 90 p. :ill., maps ;23 cm.