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Data Series 485

In cooperation with the City of Houston

Continuous and Discrete Water-Quality Data Collected at Five Sites on Lake Houston near Houston, Texas, 2006–08

By Amy M. Beussink and Michael R. Burnich


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Lake Houston, a reservoir impounded in 1954 by the City of Houston, Texas, is a primary source of drinking water for Houston and surrounding areas. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Houston, developed a continuous water-quality monitoring network to track daily changes in water quality in the southwestern quadrant of Lake Houston beginning in 2006. Continuous water-quality data (the physiochemical properties water temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen concentration, and turbidity) were collected from Lake Houston to characterize the in-lake processes that affect water quality. Continuous data were collected hourly from mobile, multi-depth monitoring stations developed and constructed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Multi-depth monitoring stations were installed at five sites in three general locations in the southwestern quadrant of the lake. Discrete water-quality data (samples) were collected routinely (once or twice each month) at all sites to characterize the chemical and biological (phytoplankton and bacteria) response to changes in the continuous water-quality properties. Physiochemical properties (the five continuously monitored plus transparency) were measured in the field when samples were collected. In addition to the routine samples, discrete water-quality samples were collected synoptically (one or two times during the study period) at all sites to determine the presence and levels of selected constituents not analyzed in routine samples. Routine samples were measured or analyzed for acid neutralizing capacity; selected major ions and trace elements (calcium, silica, and manganese); nutrients (filtered and total ammonia nitrogen, filtered nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen, total nitrate nitrogen, filtered and total nitrite nitrogen, filtered and total orthophosphate phosphorus, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, total organic carbon); fecal indicator bacteria (total coliform and Escherichia coli); sediment (suspended-sediment concentration and loss-on-ignition); actinomycetes bacteria; taste-and-odor-causing compounds (2-methylisoborneol and geosmin); cyanobacterial toxins (total microcystins); and phytoplankton abundance, biovolume, and community composition (taxonomic identification to genus). Synoptic samples were analyzed for major ions, trace elements, wastewater indicators, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon. The analytical data are presented in tables by type (continuous, discrete routine, discrete synoptic) and listed by station number. Continuously monitored properties (except pH) also are displayed graphically.

First posted February 12, 2010

For additional information contact:

Director, Texas Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
1505 Ferguson Lane
Austin, TX 78754-4501

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Suggested citation:

Beussink, A.M., and Burnich, M.R., 2009, Continuous and discrete water-quality data collected at five sites on Lake Houston near Houston, Texas, 2006–08: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 485, 18 p., appendixes online only.





Continuous and Discrete Water-Quality Data


References Cited


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