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Open-File Report 2012–1174

Specific Conductance Measurements in Central and Western New York Streams—A Retrospective Characterization

By William M. Kappel, Gaylen J. Sinclair, James E. Reddy, David A. Eckhardt, M. Peter deVries, and Margaret L. Phillips

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (5.20 MB)Introduction

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Data Rescue Program funds were used to recover data from paper records for 139 streamgages across central and western New York State; 6,133 different streamflow measurement forms, collected between 1970–80, contained field water-quality measurements. The water-quality data were entered, reviewed, and uploaded into the USGS National Water Information System. In total, 4,285 unique site visits were added to the database. The new values represent baseline water quality from which to measure change and will lead to a comparison of water-quality change over the last 40 years and into the future. Specific conductance was one of the measured properties and represents a simple way to determine if ambient inorganic water quality has been altered by anthropogenic (road salt runoff, wastewater discharges, or natural gas development) or natural sources.

The objective of this report is to describe ambient specific conductance characteristics of surface water across the central and western part of New York. This report presents median specific conductance of stream discharge for the period 1970–80 and a description of the relation between specific conductance and concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) retrieved from the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) database from 1955 to present. The data descriptions provide a baseline of surface-water specific conductance data that can used for comparison to current and future measurements in New York streams.

First posted September 13, 2012

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
New York Water Science Center
425 Jordan Road
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 285-5600

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Suggested citation:

Kappel, W.M., Sinclair, G.J., Reddy, J.E., Eckhardt, D.A., deVries, M.P., and Phillips, M.L., 2012, Specific conductance measurements in central and western New York streams—A retrospective characterization: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1174, 6 p., at



Synopsis of Regional Specific Conductance Data

Specific Conductance Data by Streamgage

NWIS Data by Major River Basin

Comparison of Specific Conductance to Total Dissolved Solids

Retrospective Characterization

Current Specific Conductance Monitoring


References Cited

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