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Open-File Report 2014–1149

Prepared in cooperation with the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance and the Nebraska Environmental Trust

Relations of Water-Quality Constituent Concentrations to Surrogate Measurements in the Lower Platte River Corridor, Nebraska, 2007 through 2011

By Nathaniel J. Schaepe, Philip J. Soenksen, and David L. Rus

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.17 MB)Abstract

The lower Platte River, Nebraska, provides drinking water, irrigation water, and in-stream flows for recreation, wildlife habitat, and vital habitats for several threatened and endangered species. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance (LPRCA) developed site-specific regression models for water-quality constituents at four sites (Shell Creek near Columbus, Nebraska [USGS site 06795500]; Elkhorn River at Waterloo, Nebr. [USGS site 06800500]; Salt Creek near Ashland, Nebr. [USGS site 06805000]; and Platte River at Louisville, Nebr. [USGS site 06805500]) in the lower Platte River corridor. The models were developed by relating continuously monitored water-quality properties (surrogate measurements) to discrete water-quality samples. These models enable existing web-based software to provide near-real-time estimates of stream-specific constituent concentrations to support natural resources management decisions.

Since 2007, USGS, in cooperation with the LPRCA, has continuously monitored four water-quality properties seasonally within the lower Platte River corridor: specific conductance, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. During 2007 through 2011, the USGS and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality collected and analyzed discrete water-quality samples for nutrients, major ions, pesticides, suspended sediment, and bacteria. These datasets were used to develop the regression models. This report documents the collection of these various water-quality datasets and the development of the site-specific regression models.

Regression models were developed for all four monitored sites. Constituent models for Shell Creek included nitrate plus nitrite, total phosphorus, orthophosphate, atrazine, acetochlor, suspended sediment, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Regression models that were developed for the Elkhorn River included nitrate plus nitrite, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, total phosphorus, orthophosphate, chloride, atrazine, acetochlor, suspended sediment, and E. coli. Models developed for Salt Creek included nitrate plus nitrite, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, suspended sediment, and E. coli. Lastly, models developed for the Platte River site included total Kjeldahl nitrogen, total phosphorus, sodium, metolachlor, atrazine, acetochlor, suspended sediment, and E. coli.

First posted October 14, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Nebraska Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
5231 South 19th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68512

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Suggested citation:

Schaepe, N.J., Soenksen, P.J., and Rus, D.L., 2014, Relations of water-quality constituent concentrations to surrogate measurements in the lower Platte River corridor, Nebraska, 2007 through 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1149, 16 p.,

ISSN 2327–638X (online)




Approach and Methods

Relations of Sampled Constituents to Surrogate Measurements: Statistical Models


References Cited

Appendix: Sample Data Comparability

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