State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009ND189B
Title: Chemical Fingerprinting of Sediments and Water of the Souris River for Identification of Diffuse Pollution Sources II
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Sediments, Methods, Surface Water
Keywords: River sediments, Diffuse pollution, Chemical fingerprinting
Principal Investigator: Otte, Marinus L. (North Dakota State University)
Federal Funds: $ 10,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 20,000
Abstract: Phosphorus is ubiquitous in water, soil and sediments. Excess phosphate in water can lead to eutrophication resulting in over-production of algae and other plants. This may lead to problems regarding water quality. Ecological problems include increased production of biomass of (potentially toxic) phytoplankton, decreased water transparency and depletion of dissolved oxygen. Social problems include the high cost of water treatment, loss of aesthetic quality of the river and reduction of fish species, many of which are economically-important. This project will focus on the environmentally and politically sensitive Souris River, which originates in Saskatchewan, then passes through North Dakota and Manitoba. There is international concern regarding phosphate loading in the water and the cross-border consequences of pollution transport. This river drains a large watershed including land that is used for cattle grazing. Cattle produce large quantities of phosphate in their waste which then washes into the river. However, the geographic origin of the phosphate is undetermined. Pinpointing the sources of polluted suspended sediments is critical for pollution abatement and regulation. In this project the potential for tracing sediments acting as phosphate sources to the Souris River will be assessed using the 'chemical fingerprinting' technique. This involves determining the 'fingerprint' concentration of many elements simultaneously. The technique provides quality and efficiency of analysis with the introduction of Inductively Coupled Plasma spectrophotometry (ICP). The elements considered pollutants can be analyzed quickly and at very low concentrations. Chemical fingerprinting has been used in plants and in tracing suspended sediment sources in catchments and river systems. In an earlier fieldwork it was recognized that the geology along this stretch of the river is relatively homogeneous and that the distance of river sampled was relatively short. This could mean that despite the observed variation in sediment composition it is not sufficient to provide identification over long distances. It is therefore proposed in this Phase II study that sampling in 2009 continue along another stretch of the river, between Minot and Bottineau. Along that stretch the geology changes from Cretaceous to Tertiary deposits and several large tributaries join the Souris River (e.g. Wintering River, Deep River and Stone Creek). More detailed sampling with more replicates (8-10) per site will be taken upstream from, downstream from, and in each of these major tributaries. The data will be analyzed using multivariate analysis and GIS-based modeling tools with the assistance of the GIS laboratory and the Statistical Consultancy Service of NDSU. Specific objectives are:

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF
Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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