What's New
This area does not yet contain any content.

Great Bend Region Spring 2016 Sample Results

Volunteers braved snow, sleet, hail and wind to sample 178 stream sites on Friday, April 8th between 2 and 5 p.m. Results of their efforts are presented below. 

Temperature - Samplers measured temperature in the field directly from the stream at the time of sample collection. Temperature is an important parameter as it is the regulator for aquatic communities - all plankton, bug, and fish species have a preferred temperature. Temperature also controls the amount of dissolved oxygen present in the water - cooler water temperatures hold more dissolved oxygen. Finally, temperature controls the rate at which chemical reactions occur, such as the conversion of nitrate-nitrogen to ammonia-nitrogen. Higher temperatures are shown in red and cooler temperatures are shown in blue. Several factors affect temperature including riparian buffers or shading, watershed inputs, and surrounding land uses. Compared to Spring and Fall 2015, water samples throughout the watershed were on average several degrees colder, likely due to the cooler than normal spring, recent rain and snow events, and the arctic blast of cool temperatures present in early April. 


pH - Samplers measured pH from water samples at the staging location. Water pH is a measure of the volume of hydrogen ion available in the water. Water pH determines the solubility and biological availability of chemicals, including nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and metals, like copper or lead. Typical pH levels in streams measure between 6.5 and 8.5. pH levels are indicative of the geological materials in the drainage area. Additionally, the amount of photosynthesis occurring in the stream can affect pH levels. Higher pH levels are shown in red, while lower pH levels are displayed in yellow and ideal pH levels are shown in green. Compared to Spring 2015, pH levels have remained fairly stable throughout most of the watershed. 



Transparency - Samplers measured water transparency using transparency tubes. Water transparency in streams reflects the distance downstream that you can see through the water. Tubes measured 114 centimeters, so any values greater than 114 centimeters exceed our ability to detect a change in water transparency. Low numbers (10 cm) indicate poor transparency while those in the 70 centimeter (2 foot) range indicate good transparency. Compared to Spring 2015, transparency in the watersheds appears to have declined; however, these data should be viewed in the context of recent rain events likely causing localized runoff to occur. When stormwater runs across the land, it collects sediment – when this sediment reaches the river, transparency declines.



Orthophosphate - Phosphorus is typically the nutrient which limits the productivity in aquatic communities. Phosphorus can be measured in many forms including orthophosphate or soluble reactive phosphorus. This form of phosphorus is the soluble, organic, readily available form of phosphorus. Higher phosphorus concentrations typically lead to higher levels of productivity. Increased productivity can result in increased concentrations of algae or plants, which can result in decreased dissolved oxygen concentrations, taste and odor problems, and create poor habitat for aquatic communities. The field results indicate elevated orthophosphate throughout the watershed. This is likely due to recent rain events carrying sediment and nutrients, like phosphorus, into adjacent streams.


Nitrate+Nitrite - Nitrate-nitrogen and nitrite-nitrogen, like orthophosphate, represent the available nitrogen in an aquatic system. Nitrogen is also available in the atmosphere and can move from the air into the water by nitrogen-fixers. Nitrogen can readily convert between different forms, especially nitrate and nitrite. Conversion to and from ammonia also occurs when dissolved oxygen is available in the system. Nitrate and nitrite concentrations are displayed below with red representing higher concentrations. Nitrate-nitrogen concentrations measuring higher than 2 ppm can inhibit aquatic communities. Concentrations higher than 10 ppm violate the state water quality standards. Levels of nitrite+nitrate are higher in Wabash River mainstem samples and throughout the southern portion of the watershed.