National Stream Quality Accounting Network, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

In Reply Refer To:

Mail Stop 412                                                                                                    May 7, 2003

Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2003.04

Subject: National Stream Quality Accounting Network, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

This memorandum contains a summary of the activities of the National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN) for FY 2003, including the stations being operated, and constituents measured. Further details on NASQAN operations can be obtained from either the National Coordinator or the Basin Coordinators. Contact information is contained at the end of this memorandum.

NASQAN Stations

The stations to be operated this year are shown in Figure 1. No changes have been made in the station configuration from FY 2002, and only minor adjustments have been made in the targeted sampling schedules.  The number of stations operated in each basin is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Number of NASQAN stations by river basin.

Basin

Number of Stations

Mississippi

17

Rio Grande

8

Colorado

2

Columbia

1

Yukon

5

Total

33

The complete listing of stations, along with number of samples to be collected, is contained in
Attachment 1. As in past years, most stations have a portion of their sample collections determined by calendar date (“fixed samples”) and a portion determined by hydrologic condition (“event samples”). Collection cost for fixed samples are paid at the beginning of the year. The cost of event samples is paid after sample collection in a secondary funding transfer in July. The initial transfers and event reserve amounts, by district and by account number, are contained in Attachment 2.



Constituents Measured

Constituents measured at NASQAN stations vary somewhat across the country depending on local conditions. Major ions and nutrients (including carbon species) are measured at all NASQAN stations. Both dissolved and sediment-associated trace elements were measured at many stations in the Colorado, Columbia, Mississippi, and Rio Grande basins during 1996-2000; sampling for these constituents continues only at stations that were not well sampled during this period (including new stations in these basins and in the Yukon basin) and at a subset of stations in these basin at a reduced frequency. Pesticides (NWQL Schedule 2001) are measured throughout the Mississippi and Rio Grande basins; but are not measured in the Yukon basin. Radiochemistry is measured in the Colorado and Yukon basins.

Special Studies

Mississippi Basin

The water-quality issues in the Mississippi River Basin are complex and varied, including changing the operation of the dams on the Missouri River to provide habit for endangered species, survival of the mussel population during the building of a lock and dam on the lower Ohio River and the effects of the Spring 2001 upper Mississippi River flood. Currently, the most prominent water-quality issue in the Mississippi River Basin, on a national scale, is the hypoxic waters that form near shore in the Gulf of Mexico each summer. The areal extent of these hypoxic waters in July 2001 was about 8,000 square miles; this is the maximum extent recorded since record keeping began in the early 1980’s. Some researchers relate the increase in nitrogen being discharged from the Mississippi River over the past 50 years to the growth and severity of these hypoxic waters. Although, the NASQAN program will not answer the question of whether the increased nitrogen exacerbates the hypoxic waters, the program with its flux-based approach will provide information on source areas for nutrients and document any changes in the transport of nutrients that might occur in an effort to control the hypoxic zone.

During FY 2003, the following activities will continue in the Mississippi Basin:

·        Tritium -- Samples will be collected for tritium analysis for Robert Michel (NRP, WR) at 3 stations (Ohio R. @ Cannelton Dam; Mississippi R. @ St. Francisville; Missouri R. @ Omaha). (NRP-WR at no cost to NASQAN)

·        Cumberland River – The calculation of constituent yields in the lower Ohio River has shown some results, which are counter-intuitive. One of the areas of interest is the Tennessee-Cumberland system. Prior to 2001 only the Tennessee River was sampled and the yields for the Cumberland River were calculated by difference. Beginning in FY 2002 the Cumberland River near the confluence of the Ohio River was added as a NASQAN station.

·        LTRMP—NASQAN will be working during FY 2003 with BRD’s Long Term Resource Monitoring Program to ensure data comparability. A joint analysis of NASQAN, NAWQA,
Coop and LTRMP data is being explored to describe the water-quality effects of the spring 2001 flooding in the upper Mississippi River Basin. (Richard Coupe, Miss. Basin Coordinator, MS District)

·        Establishment of Baton Rouge “Supergage”—During FY 2003, NASQAN sampling will begin to transition from the historical location at St. Francisville, LA, to a new gage at Baton Rouge, LA, that will include real-time water-quality monitoring. This activity is in support of Tulane University’s Lower Estuary Assessment Group. (Financial support for this activity is from the Toxics Program and by transferring resources from St. Francisville gage to new gage at Baton Rouge.)

·        Modeling size and volume of hypoxic zone—Bill Battaglin (CO District) will work with Nancy Rabalais (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)) on determining volume (rather than just area) of hypoxic zone and explore the relation between this volume and nutrient loadings. ($10,000)

Rio Grande Basin

The Rio Grande forms the boundary between Mexico and the United States in Texas and often is the sole source of water for a number of communities on both sides of the border and a source of habitat for wildlife and endangered species.  The region is mostly arid to semiarid and flow is controlled by numerous reservoirs in the basin.  On the mainstem of the Rio Grande, Amistad International Reservoir and Falcon International Reservoir serve to subdivide the Rio Grande into discrete river systems with unique hydrologic, geologic, and chemical characteristics.

The NASQAN fixed-station network will continue to collect data from the eight (8) stations monitored in FY 2002: Rio Grande near Presidio (08374200), Rio Grande at Foster Ranch (08377200), Pecos River near Langtry (08447410), Rio Grande below Amistad Dam (08450900), Rio Grande near Laredo (08459200), Rio Grande below Falcon Dam (08461300), Arroyo Colorado near Harlingen (08470400), and Rio Grande near Brownsville (08475000). The goal of the fixed-network is to continue to collect samples using a flux-based approach over a range in stage. Sampling will be done on a routine basis at the eight (8) stations located in the middle and lower portions of the Rio Grande watershed because of infrequent storm events in the basin. Although sampling is planned on a regular basis, efforts will be made to sample at higher stages and during storm events if they occur. Samples from the upper Rio Grande watershed near El Paso will continue to be collected as part of the NAWQA program. In
FY 2003, NASQAN will take on a greater role in sampling at the Rio Grande near Presidio site.  This site, operated in cooperation with the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park, provides information on water quality downstream of the confluence of the Rio Conchos with the Rio Grande.  The Rio Conchos is the largest freshwater inflow to the Rio Grande in Texas and inflow from the river has historically dominated flow in the middle Rio Grande Basin during the summer rainy season.  In the Rio Conchos watershed, expanding agricultural, mining, and timber harvesting activities as well as urban and industrial development affect both the quantity and quality of the Rio Grande. For the lower Rio Grande basin, flow at the Rio Grande at Brownsville site (08475000) will be sampled on an event-only basis.  Because of reduced flows in the Rio Grande resulting from the construction of a low-water dam and reduced inflows from tributaries, the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf of Mexico generally only during higher flows and most of the time a sample cannot be collected at the Brownsville site.  Most of the base flow from the Lower Valley is diverted into the Arroyo Colorado and is discharged into the Laguna Madre.  

Both water column and suspended sediment samples will be collected and analyzed at the fixed-network stations.  Field parameters such as stream discharge, water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity will be measured. Water samples will be analyzed for major ions, nutrients, trace metals, dissolved and suspended organic carbon, dissolved inorganic carbon, selected pesticides, and sediment concentration. Additionally, oxygen/deuterium and nitrogen isotope samples are collected for NRP. Suspended sediment samples will be collected at selected sites and analyzed for suspended trace elements.

Special studies in the Rio Grande Basin: Special studies in the Rio Grande Basin are designed to address issues and concerns that cannot be adequately characterized using the current fixed-station network of NASQAN. Concerns in the region include the increasing concentration of metals including arsenic and mercury, increasing salinity, and the presence of numerous pesticide and organic compounds, especially in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

An analysis of historical (1970’s to 1994) riverbed sediment data for the Rio Grande Basin showed increasing trends of mercury and selenium in the region between the Pecos River and Amistad International Reservoir. Sampling of Falcon and Amistad Reservoirs was conducted in FY2001 to assess the occurrence and distribution of total mercury and methylmercury in the water column and in fish tissue. Methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, is usually ingested and can affect the immune system and nervous system.  Elemental mercury may be found in higher concentrations in areas such as mining sites, but is not as toxic as methylmercury.  The sampling of the reservoirs and fish will provide additional information on the distribution and forms of mercury present in the Rio Grande Basin. Data collection for this project has been completed. Work in FY 2003 includes data evaluation and report writing. 

Drainage from abandoned mercury, silver, lead, and gold mines are a principal source of contaminants affecting the quality of the Rio Grande upstream of, and in, Big Bend National Park.  The presence of trace elements of concern including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, selenium, silver, and thallium have been documented, as has increasing trends of mercury and zinc in the middle Rio Grande basin. In FY 2002, an assessment of the effects of historical mining on the middle Rio Grande was done to take a closer look at the influence of abandoned mines on the quality of the soil, sediment, and water in middle Rio Grande Basin in and around Big Bend National Park in the United States and the adjacent Maderas del Carmen and Canon de Santa Elena Mexican Protected Areas in Mexico. As part of the assessment, soil samples were collected from mine tailings in Mexico and the United States, water and sediment (bed and suspended) samples were collected from tributaries in Mexico and the United States and from the Rio Grande. The assessment was conducted in cooperation with the National Park Service – Big Bend National Park, the Mexican Protected areas, the International Boundary and Water Commission, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Field data collection for this project has been completed.  Work in FY 2003 includes data evaluation and report writing.

Yukon Basin

FY 2003 is the third year of the Yukon River NASQAN study. This year’s activities focus on two work elements: 1) operation of a fixed station network, and 2) synoptic sampling of a portion of the Yukon River (and its tributaries) from Stevens Village, AK, to Pilot Station.

Fixed Station Network: The fixed station network consists of 5 sites - 3 located along the mainstem of the Yukon River and 2 that drain major tributaries to the Yukon.

15356000 – Yukon River at Eagle, AK – 114,000 mi2. Represents about one third of the Yukon River Basin. Importance of the site is that it is located above the Yukon Flats, a large depositional area.

15453500 – Yukon River near Stevens Village, AK – 196,300 mi2. Located downstream of the Yukon Flats. Comparisons of fluxes at this site with the fluxes from sites upstream of Yukon Flats should indicate amount of deposition of various water quality constituents.

15565447 – Yukon River at Pilot Station, AK – 321,000 mi2.  Represents the mouth of the basin.

15389000 – Porcupine River near Fort Yukon, AK – 29,500 mi2. Drains a permafrost basin.

15515500 – Tanana River at Nenana, AK – 25,600 mi2. Drains a glacial basin.

Sampling frequency and constituents Each site is sampled 7 times, once in March (representing low flow conditions) and the remaining six times during the open water season, late May to September. Samples are analyzed for standard NASQAN constituents, suspended trace elements, and suspended sediment. In addition, samples are analyzed for specific NRP studies. These include mercury, radiochemistry, organic carbon, total and dissolved trace metals, carbon dioxide, methane, inorganic carbon, deuterium, and oxygen-18. (NASQAN contributes $50,000 to NRP in partial payment for these laboratory analyses and NRP personnel’s contributions to the Yukon study.)

Synoptic Sampling: Two synoptic sampling trips will be conducted along a portion of the Yukon River from Stevens Village, AK, to Pilot Station. These trips will take place in June and August in order to
(1) characterize this section of the Yukon under different flow conditions and (2) determine instantaneous flux of major ions, nutrients, dissolved and suspended trace elements at a large number of points to determine important source areas and patterns of transport and fate.  Water quality samples will be collected both along the mainstem of the Yukon River and at major tributaries. (NASQAN is contributing an additional $75,000; NRP is contributing $50,000, as well as a substantial commitment of NRP personnel and laboratory resources; and Alaska District has provided planning and support at no additional cost to NASQAN to accomplish this study.)

Columbia Basin

The scope of the NASQAN program in the Columbia River Basin for the period 2001-2005 is much reduced relative to 1996-2000, with sampling at only one index station, the Columbia River at Beaver Army Terminal near Quincy, Oregon (14246900).  Nonetheless, sampling at this station continues to be oriented toward the primary NASQAN program objective of characterizing fluxes of water and chemicals out of the basin to receiving waters, i.e., the Columbia River Estuary. One of the important water-quality issues in the Columbia Basin concerns the effect of toxic contaminants on wildlife, especially hydrophobic compounds that are predominantly transported in association with sediment particles.  Because of the high degree of flow regulation in the Columbia River, much of the sediment from the upper regions of the basin is deposited in main-stem reservoirs and does not reach the mouth of the river.  As a result, local sediment sources assume greater importance.  Of particular concern to wildlife in the Estuary is the influence of sediment input from the Willamette River, which is heavily influenced by agriculture and the major metropolitan area of Portland. 

The standard approach for flux determination in NASQAN is to develop a regression relationship between constituent concentration with streamflow and seasonal factors, as appropriate.  At this site, however, suspended sediment concentration exhibits a generally poor relation with streamflow because of extensive flow regulation upstream, and further weakened by tidal effects.  The influence of the Willamette also is a confounding factor, as it contributes a large proportion of the total water and sediment flux during winter storms when flow is relatively low in the main-stem Columbia River.  Given the concern about delivery to the Estuary of sediment-associated toxic contaminants, the Columbia Basin NASQAN program is augmenting the routine sampling program with a special turbidity study during 2001-2005.  The objectives of the special study are as follows:

·                  To improve estimates of sediment delivery to the Columbia River Estuary through the use of in-situ turbidity measurements as a surrogate for suspended sediment concentration

·                  To evaluate the influence of the Willamette River as a source of estimated sediment loads to the main-stem Columbia River

The general approach of the special study is to explore the relation of turbidity and suspended sediment concentration, in context with other relevant factors.  Two continuous nephelometric turbidity sensors have been deployed at the site, co-located with a side-scan Doppler unit monitoring streamflow velocity.  Sampling includes a mix of water-quality and field-calibration samples, totaling 15-17 site visits per year. 


Data will be used to fine-tune the regression model for estimating loads of suspended sediment, and, if possible, to estimate the percent of silt-sized and smaller particles.  Results will analyzed to determine the governing factors for sediment delivery to the Columbia River Estuary, especially the effect of Willamette River inputs.   

Colorado Basin

Two index stations will be operated in the Colorado Basin (Colorado River above Diamond Creek and Colorado River at Northerly International Boundary), the same as last year. Sampling at the compact point (Colorado River at Lees Ferry) is supported through the cooperative program. No special studies or interpretive reports are planned for FY 2003.

NASQAN Contact Information

For any questions on the NASQAN program, consult our web page (http://water.usgs.gov/nasqan) or contact any of the following individuals:

 Timothy L. Miller

 Chief, Office of Water Quality

This memorandum supersedes OWQ Technical Memorandum 2002.07.

Distribution:      A, B, DC, AO, District and Regional Water-Quality Specialists


Attachment 1. FY 2003 NASQAN Stations

Station ID

Name

District

Fixed Samples

Planned Event

Replicates

Sediment Chemistry

Mississippi Basin

03086000

Ohio R @ Sewickley, PA

PA

12

2

3

15

03216600

Ohio R @Greenup Dam

KY

12

3

3

0

03303280

Ohio R @Cannelton

KY

12

3

3

0

03378500

Wabash R @ New Harmony

KY

12

3

3

0

03438500

Cumberland R@ Smithland

KY

6

0

1

6

03609750

Tennessee R @ Paducah

KY

6

0

1

4

03612500

Ohio R nr Gr. Chain

KY

12

3

3

4

05420500

Mississippi R @ Clinton

IA

10

3

3

4

06185500

Missouri R nr Culbertson

MT

6

2

2

0

06338490

Missouri R @ Garrison Dam

ND

6

0

1

0

06467500

Missouri R @ Yankton

SD

8

0

1

0

06610000

Missouri R @ Omaha

IA

12

3

3

0

06934500

Missouri R @ Hermann

MO

12

3

3

4

07022000

Mississippi R @Thebes

MO

12

3

3

4

07263620

Ark. R @ D.Terry Dam

AR

10

0

2

4

07373420

Mississippi R @ St. Francisville

LA

12

3

3

4

07381495

Atchafalaya R @ Melville

LA

12

3

3

4

Rio Grande Basin

08374200

Rio Grande bl Presidio

TX

8

0

1

6

08377200

Rio Grande @ Foster Ranch

TX

8

0

1

6

08447410

Pecos R. nr. Langtry

TX

8

0

1

0

08450900

Rio G. bl Amistad Res

TX

6

0

1

0

08459200

Rio Grande @ Laredo

TX

8

0

1

6

08461300

Rio Grande bl Falcon Dam

TX

6

0

1

0

08470400

Arroyo Colorado nr Harlingen

TX

8

0

1

6

08475000

Rio Grande nr Brownsville

TX

6

0

1

6

Colorado Basin

09404200

Colorado R @ Diamond CK

AZ

8

0

1

8

09522000

Colorado R @ NIB

AZ

6

0

1

4

Columbia Basin

14246900

Columbia R @ Beaver Army

OR

8

9

2

4

Yukon Basin

15356000

Yukon R @ Eagle

AK

7

0

1

7

15389000

Porcupine R nr Ft Yukon

AK

7

0

1

7

15453500

Yukon R @ Stevens Village

AK

7

0

1

7

15515500

Tanana R @ Nenana

AK

7

0

1

7

15565447

Yukon R @ Pilot Station

AK

7

0

1

7


Attachment 2. FY 2003 Funding Allocations by Station and Account Number

Account Number

District

Fixed Sampling Cost

Gaging Cost

Event Sampling Reserve

 

2419APB

KY

 $   234,527

 $     21,100

 $     44,041

 

2476ACR

PA

 $     37,534 

 $            -  

 $       4,595

 

85789M4

AR

 $     27,072

 $       4,583

 $            -  

 

485919MU

IA

 $     81,588

 $            -  

 $     20,490

 

8601AEE

LA

 $   114,311

 $            -

 $     26,651

 

86119CS

MO

 $   119,300

 $            -

 $     27,351

 

8620A10

MT

 $     18,280

 $            -  

 $       5,347

 

8638AGN

ND

 $     16,780

 $            -  

 $            -  

 

86489QM

SD

 $     35,411

 $          895

 $            -  

 

8653AGS

TX

 $   175,065

 $            -  

 $       6,328

 

90549AI

AK

 $   263,699

 $            -  

 $            -

 

96719ES

AZ

 $     48,056

 $            -  

 $            -  

 

97119H2

OR

 $     37,324

 $            -  

 $     16,593