Nutrient and suspended-sediment concentrations and loads and benthic-invertebrate data for tributaries to the St. Croix River, Wisconsin and Minnesota, 1997-99

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4162
Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service, Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission, St. Croix County, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
By: , and 



Nutrient and suspended-sediment data were collected on major tributaries to the St. Croix River during 1997-99 as part of three studies. The first study, done in 1997 as part of the U.S. Geological Survey?s National Water-Quality Assessment Program Upper Mississippi Study Unit, was a widespread synoptic survey of nutrient and suspended-sediment concentrations, loads, and yields during snowmelt. Runoff from snowmelt in agricultural areas and other areas with low permeability soils had significantly greater nutrient concentrations than forested areas, whereas differences in suspended-sediment loading were not detected. In 1998, synoptic samplings of 11 tributaries were done during snowmelt, base-flow, and storm-runoff periods. These studies showed that the Apple, Willow, and Kinnickinnic Rivers were major contributors of suspended sediments and nutrients to the St. Croix River during base flow and storm-runoff events. Nitrate concentrations were high during base flow in the agricultural tributaries?specifically, the Kinnickinnic (4.83 mg/L), Willow (1.53 mg/L), and Apple (0.79 mg/L) Rivers?possibly from ground-water recharge or point-source contributions. Extensive water-quality sampling was done monthly and during high-flow events in water year 1999 (October 1, 1998 to September 30, 1999) in coordination with continuous streamflow monitoring at 12 sites in the St. Croix River Basin. These data were used to compute annual nutrient and suspended-sediment loads and yields at the monitored sites for water year 1999. Relations among environmental characteristics and calculated annual nutrient and suspended-sediment yields were used to estimate loading from unmonitored parts of the basin. The environmental characteristics found to best estimate annual yields were soil characteristics (clay, permeability of soil, and erodibility), basin slope and area, and the percentages of wetland and urban areas in the basins. Variability in 1999 rainfall intensity resulted in annual yields from several northern, forested basins being higher than those from the southern, agricultural basins. The Sunrise River had the highest annual suspended-sediment and nutrient yields in the basin in 1999. Concentrations and instantaneous loading rates varied as much among various flow conditions at individual sites as among sites during the three years of study.

Benthic invertebrates were sampled and indices of water quality were calculated at 16 tributaries in fall 1999. Benthic invertebrate indices indicated excellent to good water quality at all tributaries except Valley Creek, Willow River, and Kettle River. No relations were found between benthic invertebrate indices and the calculated and estimated 1999 annual tributary loads and yields.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Nutrient and suspended-sediment concentrations and loads and benthic-invertebrate data for tributaries to the St. Croix River, Wisconsin and Minnesota, 1997-99
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2001-4162
DOI 10.3133/wri014162
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description vi, 57 p.
Country United States
State Minnesota, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial St. Croix River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details