Quality of Surface Waters of the United States 1955

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Paulsen, C.G.
Love, S.K.
Benedict, P.C.
Geurin, J.W.
Dover, T.B.
Stow, J.M.
Irelan, Burdge

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U.S. Geological Survey


The quality-of-water Investigations of the United States Geological Survey are concerned with chemical and physical characteristics of the surface and groundwater supplies of the Nation. Most of the investigations carried on in cooperation with States and other Federal agencies deal with the amounts of matter in solution and in suspension in streams. The records of chemical analysis, suspended sediment, and temperature for surface waters given in this volume serve as a basis for determining the suitability of the waters examined for industrial, agricultural, and domestic uses insofar as such use is affected by the dissolved or suspended mineral matter in the waters. The discharge of a stream and, to a lesser extent, the chemical quality are related to variations in rainfall and other forms of precipitation. In general, lower concentrations of dissolved solids may be expected during the periods of high flow than during periods of low flow. The concentration in some streams may change materially with relatively small variations in flow, whereas for other streams the quality may remain relatively uniform throughout large ranges in discharge. The quantities of suspended sediment carried by streams are also related to discharge, and during flood periods the sediment concentrations in many streams vary over wide ranges. The regular yearly publication of records of chemical analyses, suspended sediment, and water temperature was begun by the Geological Survey in 1941. The annual records prior to 1948 were published in a single volume for the entire country. Beginning in 1948, the records were published in two volumes, and beginning in 1950, in four volumes, covering the drainage basins shown in figure 1. The samples for which data are given were collected from October 1, 1954, to September 30, 1955. Descriptive statements are given for each sampling station for which regular series of chemical analyses, temperature observations, or sediment determinations have been made. These statements include the location of the stream-sampling station, drainage area, length of time for which records are available, extremes of dissolved solids, hardness, sediment loads, water temperature, and other pertinent data. Records of water discharge of the streams at, or near, the sampling point for the sampling period are included in most tables of analyses. The records are arranged by drainage basins, according to Geological Survey practice in reporting records of streamflow. During the year ended September 30, 1955, 160 regular sampling stations on 100 streams for the study of the chemical character of surface waters were maintained by the Geological Survey in the area covered by this volume. Samples were collected less frequently during the year at many other points. Water temperatures were measured daily at 123 of the regular sampling stations. Not all analyses of samples of surface water collected during the year have been included. Single analyses of an incomplete nature generally have been omitted. Also, determinations made on the daily samples before compositing have not been reported. Specific conductance was usually determined on each daily sample, and as noted in the table headings this information is available for reference at the district offices listed under Division of Work, on page 22. Quantities of suspended sediment are reported for 26 stations during the year ending September 30, 1955. The sediment samples were collected one or more times daily at most stations, depending on the rate of flow and changes in stage of the stream. Sediment samples were collected less frequently during the year at many other points. In connection with measurements of sediment discharge, sizes of sediment particles were determined at 25 of the stations. Material which is transported almost in continuous contact with the stream bed and the material that bounces along the bed in short skips or leaps is termed " bedload" and is not considered in this report. All other undissolved fragmental material in transport is termed "suspended sediment" and generally constitutes the major part of the total sediment load. At the present time no reliable routine method has been developed for determining bedload.


This report contains daily minimum and maximum temperature data for Waller Creek at 23rd Street between the months of March and September 1955.

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