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Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5065

Nutrients, Suspended Sediment, and Pesticides in Water of the Red River of the North Basin, Minnesota and North Dakota, 1990-2004

By V. G. Christensen

Prepared in cooperation with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency


This report is available below as a 46-page PDF for viewing and printing.


Abstract

Nutrient, suspended sediment, and pesticide data from 1990 through 2004 in the Red River of the North Basin were compiled, summarized, and compared to historical data. Streamflow varied widely throughout the basin during the 1990-2004 study period. For 19 of 22 streamflow sites, median annual streamflow during the study period exceeded the long-term average streamflow. High streamflow can have a substantial effect on water quality. In water samples from selected surface-water sites, nitrite plus nitrate concentrations ranged from less than 0.005 to 7.7 milligrams per liter; total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations ranged from 0.1 to 7.5 milligrams per liter; total phosphorus concentrations ranged from less than 0.005 to 4.14 milligrams per liter; and dissolved phosphorus concentrations ranged from 0.003 to 4.13 milligrams per liter. Surface-water samples from the Pembina River basin generally had higher nitrite plus nitrate, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment concentrations compared to samples from other Red River Basin sites. Historical data from 1970 through 1990 showed relatively high nitrite plus nitrate and suspended sediment concentrations in samples from some Pembina River sites; in contrast to the 1990-2004 period, total phosphorus concentrations from the 1970-90 period generally were highest at Red River of the North sites. Nitrate concentrations in ground-water samples for the 1990-2004 period were highest in Sheridan County, North Dakota and Marshall and Otter Tail Counties in Minnesota. Concentrations of nitrate in ground water in Marshall and Otter Tail Counties corresponded to relatively high reported fertilizer applications during 2002; however, Sheridan County did not have the high fertilizer applications in 2002 compared to other North Dakota and Minnesota counties. The most frequently detected pesticides or pesticide metabolites were 2, 4-D, bentazon, de-ethylatrazine, metolachlor, picloram, and triallate in surface water and alachlor ethanesulfonic acid (ESA), atrazine, de-ethylatrazine, picloram, and triazine in ground water. None of the most frequently detected pesticides or metabolites sampled and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey or available in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Storage and Retrieval System (STORET) during 1990-2004 were detected frequently during 1970-90, with the exception of 2,4-D.


Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Environmental Setting

Uses and Sources of Nutrients, Sediment, and Pesticides

Methods

Nutrients, Suspended Sediment, and Pesticides in Water of the Red River Basin

Nutrients

Surface Water

Ground Wate

Suspended Sediment

Pesticides

Surface Water

Ground Water

Comparison to Historical Data

Summary

References Cited


Figures

1.–3. Maps showing:

  1. Location of the Red River of the North Basin in Minnesota and North Dakota.
  2. Land use and land cover and physiographic areas in the Red River of the North Basin.
  3. Surface-water sampling sites in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.

4.–6. Graphs showing:

 
4.
Distribution of mean annual streamflow for 22 U.S. Geological Survey sites with continuous streamflow record in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
 
5.
Distribution of (A) nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen, (B) total Kjeldahl nitrogen, (C) total phosphorus, and (D) dissolved phosphorus concentrations for 23 selected U.S. Geological Survey stream sites in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
 
6.
Distribution of (A) nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen, (B) total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and (C) total phosphorus concentrations for selected U.S. Environmental Protection Agency STOrage and RETrieval stream sites in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
7. Map showing numbers of wells sampled, by county, during 1990–2004 in the Red River of the North Basin.

8.–12. Graphs showing:

 
8.
Distribution of nitrate nitrogen concentrations in water from wells in North Dakota counties in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
 
9.
Distribution of nitrate nitrogen concentrations in water from wells in Minnesota counties in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
 
10.
Distribution of suspended-sediment concentrations for stream sites in the Red River of the North Basin upstream from Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1990–2004.
 
11.
Distribution of suspended-sediment concentrations for stream sites in the Red River of the North Basin at Grand Forks, North Dakota and downstream, 1990–2004.
 
12.
Monthly distribution of pesticide concentrations for five selected U.S. Geological Survey stream sites (1990–2004): (A) de-ethylatrazine, (B) atrazine, (C) metolachlor, and (D) triallate.

Tables


  1. Estimates of fertilizer application for counties in the Red River of the North Basin, 2002.
  2. Pesticide applications in Minnesota and North Dakota, 1997.
  3. Selected U. S. Geological Survey surface-water sites sampled for streamflow or analysis of nutrients, suspended sediment, and pesticides.
  4. Selected U.S. Environmental Protection Agency STORage and RETrieval System surface-water sites sampled for analysis of nutrients, suspended sediment, or pesticides.
  5. Summary of the most frequently detected pesticides from 12 surface-water sites in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.
  6. Summary of the most frequently detected pesticides in ground water from 263 sites in the Red River of the North Basin, 1990–2004.

Download this report in PDF format: Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5065

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Suggested citation:

Christensen, V.G., 2007, Nutrients, suspended sediment, and pesticides in water of the Red River of the North Basin, Minnesota and North Dakota, 1990-2004: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5065, 36 p.


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Contact

For scientific questions or comments, please send inquires to Victoria G. Christensen (E-mail address: vglenn@usgs.gov).



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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