In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 412 February 2, 2005

Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2005.01

Subject: National Stream Quality Accounting Network, Fiscal Year (FY) 2005

This memorandum contains a summary of the activities of the National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN) for FY 2005, including the stations being operated, and constituents measured. Further details on NASQAN operations can be obtained from either the Office of Water Quality or the Basin Coordinators. Contact information is contained at the end of this memorandum.

FY 2005 will require changes in operations at each station in the continental United States. Appropriated funding for NASQAN is about $80,000 below last FY, and in addition increases in station costs for similar operations to FY 2004 resulted in a projected deficit well above $100,000. Thus, for every station in the continental US, reduce the planned sample collection by one sample. Please consult with the Basin Coordinator to determine the candidate sample time for elimination this year. The total number of samples expected for collection has been adjusted and are shown in Attachment 1.

The Yukon sampling will continue in FY 2005 for the last year, and as such no reduction in sampling at the fixed stations is planned. All 7 samples should be collected.

NASQAN Stations

The stations to be operated this year are largely the same as FY 2004. We will continue to sample the Mississippi at Baton Rouge in connection with the St. Francisville station. 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 19
Rio Grande 8
Colorado 2
Columbia 1
Yukon 5
Total 35

Some stations in the Mississippi River Basin have a portion of their sample collections determined by calendar date (“fixed samples”) and a portion determined by hydrologic condition (“event samples”). Event samples are to be collected in consultation with the Basin Coordinator. 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, and sampling should continue for the National Research Program.

Please insure that all field personnel sampling at NASQAN stations have a copy of Attachment 3, which provides specific information on sample collection and processing in FY 2005.

Special Studies

Funding limits have eliminated the ability to use NASQAN funding for special studies sponsored by NASQAN. However, for several NRP projects NASQAN has been collecting isotope samples and if at all possible that should continue in FY 2005. Funding limits have also reduced support for each of the Basin Coordinators from FY 2004 by about 20 percent.

While there are no funded NASQAN special studies, there are some comments on each of the basins below:

Mississippi Basin

The water-quality issues in the Mississippi River Basin continue to be connected to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia concerns. NASQAN will continue in FY 2005 to compute loads of nutrients delivered to the Gulf and moving down the Mississippi. Some scientists connect 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 2005, we will continue to operate the site at Baton Rouge so we can eventually 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. We will also continue to process samples from the Mississippi River at Grafton, where sampling costs are provided from another agency, and NASQAN can get 12 samples this year.

Rio Grande Basin

The Rio Grande basin will continue to collect data from the eight (8) stations monitored in FY 2004. 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.

Yukon Basin

FY 2005 is the last year of sampling in 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 the Yukon River from Stevens Village, AK, to Pilot Station. No reduction in fixed station sampling is requested this year, because it is the last year of operation.

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.

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). 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.

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 Water Program.

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 /s/
Chief, Office of Water Quality

This memorandum supersedes OWQ Technical Memorandum 2003.04.

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

Attachment 1. FY 2005 NASQAN Stations
Attachment 2. FY 2005 Funding Allocations by Station and Account Number
Attachment 3. FY 2005 NASQAN Operations