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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5171

Prepared in cooperation with the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under the authorization of the Texas Clean Rivers Act and applicable Federal law

Streamflow and Water-Quality Properties in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin and Regression Models to Estimate Real-Time Suspended-Sediment and Total Suspended-Solids Concentrations and Loads in the West Fork San Jacinto River in the Vicinity of Conroe, Texas, July 2008–August 2009

By Lee J. Bodkin and Jeannette H. Oden

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To better understand the hydrology (streamflow and water quality) of the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin downstream from Lake Conroe near Conroe, Texas, including spatial and temporal variation in suspended-sediment (SS) and total suspended-solids (TSS) concentrations and loads, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, measured streamflow and collected continuous and discrete water-quality data during July 2008–August 2009 in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin downstream from Lake Conroe.

During July 2008–August 2009, discrete samples were collected and streamflow measurements were made over the range of flow conditions at two streamflow-gaging stations on the West Fork San Jacinto River: West Fork San Jacinto River below Lake Conroe near Conroe, Texas (station 08067650) and West Fork San Jacinto River near Conroe, Texas (station 08068000). In addition to samples collected at these two main monitoring sites, discrete sediment samples were also collected at five additional monitoring sites to help characterize water quality in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin. Discrete samples were collected semimonthly, regardless of flow conditions, and during periods of high flow resulting from storms or releases from Lake Conroe. Because the period of data collection was relatively short (14 months) and low flow was prevalent during much of the study, relatively few samples collected were representative of the middle and upper ranges of historical daily mean streamflows.

The largest streamflows tended to occur in response to large rainfall events and generally were associated with the largest SS and TSS concentrations. The maximum SS and TSS concentrations at station 08067650 (180 and 133 milligrams per liter [mg/L], respectively) were on April 19, 2009, when the instantaneous streamflow was the third largest associated with a discrete sample at the station. SS concentrations were 25 mg/L or less in 26 of 29 environmental samples and TSS concentrations were 25 mg/L or less in 25 of 28 environmental samples. Median SS and TSS concentrations were 7.0 and 7.6 mg/L, respectively. At station 08068000, the maximum SS concentration (1,270 mg/L) was on April 19, 2009, and the maximum TSS concentration (268 mg/L) was on September 18, 2008. SS concentrations were 25 mg/L or less in 16 of 27 of environmental samples and TSS concentrations were 25 mg/L or less in 18 of 26 environmental samples at the station. Median SS and TSS concentrations were 18.0 and 14.0 mg/L, respectively.

The maximum SS and TSS concentrations for all five additional monitoring sites were 3,110 and 390 mg/L, respectively, and the minimum SS and TSS concentrations were 5.0 and 1.0 mg/L, respectively. Median concentrations ranged from 14.0 to 54.0 mg/L for SS and from 11.0 to 14.0 mg/L for TSS.

Continuous measurements of streamflow and selected water-quality properties at stations 08067650 and 08068000 were evaluated as possible variables in regression equations developed to estimate SS and TSS concentrations and loads. Surrogate regression equations were developed to estimate SS and TSS loads by using real-time turbidity and streamflow data; turbidity and streamflow resulted in the best regression models for estimating near real-time SS and TSS concentrations for stations 08097650 and 08068000.

Relatively large errors are associated with the regression-computed SS and TSS concentrations; the 90-percent prediction intervals for SS and TSS concentrations were ±48.9 and ±43.2 percent, respectively, for station 08067650 and ±47.7 and ±43.2 percent, respectively, for station 08068000. Regression-computed SS and TSS concentrations were corrected for bias before being used to compute SS and TSS loads. The total estimated SS and TSS loads during July 2008–August 2009 were about 3,540 and 1,900 tons, respectively, at station 08067650 and about 156,000 and 72,000 tons, respectively, at station 08068000. Because the estimated SS and TSS concentrations derived from the regression equations contained large error components, the computed load estimates are inferred to also include large errors. Loads were about 40 times larger at station 08068000 compared with loads at station 08067650, likely because flow at station 08067650 (2.5 miles downstream from Lake Conroe) is more representative of water-quality properties of releases from Lake Conroe, whereas flow at station 08068000 (11 miles downstream from station 08067650) is more representative of water-quality properties in the West Fork San Jacinto River.

First posted September 13, 2010

For additional information contact:
Director, Texas Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
1505 Ferguson Lane
Austin, TX 78754-4501

World Wide Web: http://tx.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Bodkin, L.J., and Oden, J.H., 2010, Streamflow and water-quality properties in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin and regression models to estimate real-time suspended-sediment and total suspended-solids concentrations and loads in the West Fork San Jacinto River in the vicinity of Conroe, Texas, July 2008–August 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5171, 35 p.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Data-Collection and Regression Methods

Streamflow and Water-Quality Properties in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin

Regression Models to Estimate Real-Time Suspended-Sediment and Total Suspended-Solids Concentrations and Loads

Summary

References Cited

Appendix 1. S–PLUS Output of Regression Model Development of Turbidity, Streamflow, Suspended-Sediment Concentration, and Total Suspended-Solids Concentration for Two Main Monitoring Sites (Stations 08067650 and 08068000) in the West Fork San Jacinto River Basin, Texas, July 2008–August 2009


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