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Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center
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ABOUT THE WYOMING-MONTANA WATER SCIENCE CENTER
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USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.
Yellowstone River Basin
Federal, State, and local governments and industry have made significant commitments to the protection of water quality during the past two decades. Large financial investments have been made for water-quality management and protection and future expenditures are anticipated to abate and control water pollution. Nationally consistent information is needed to make valid regional comparisons and national statements about current water-quality conditions and about changes in these conditions. The U.S. Geological Survey began implementing a full-scale National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program in 1991 to address this need for national water-quality information. Assessing water quality in every area of the Nation would be impractical, thus major activities of the NAWQA program will take place within a set of hydrologic systems called study units. The Yellowstone River Basin was selected as 1 of 59 study units because
Major water-quality issues in the Yellowstone River Basin vary from potential degradation of pristine streams in headwater areas to industrial and agricultural effects in downstream reaches, and include both point and non-point sources. The issues generally are related to land and water use, but some are related to natural factors. Potential water-quality issues to be investigated include
Project activities in the NAWQA program are conducted in cycles to accomplish the objectives of the study. The first two years of the project focus on planning and analysis of available data. Years 3 through 5 emphasize data collection and analysis. A lower level of data collection continues for subsequent years to evaluate long-term trends in water quality. The Yellowstone River Basin Study is one of seventeen study units begun in 1997 as part of the NAWQA Program.
The Yellowstone River Basin NAWQA project is currently (2010) conducting low-intensity sampling of surface-water quality and aquatic ecology at site 06324970, Little Powder River above Dry Creek, near Weston, Wyo.
Planning is currently (2010) underway for a groundwater study related to agricultural land use (see special studies).
Study Unit Design
The nationwide design for the NAWQA program is described by Gilliom and others (1995). The NAWQA study units across the Nation share common protocols and goals (https://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/) for surface-water, ecological, and ground-water investigations. The study design of the Yellowstone River Basin NAWQA investigation includes national components and elements specific to this basin.
Surface-Water Chemistry and Ecology
The sampling network was designed to investigate water-quality characteristics of streams in the context of environmental settings in the Yellowstone River Basin (Zelt and others, 1999). Surface-water chemistry, aquatic ecology, bed sediment, and fish-tissue monitoring was conducted at fixed and intensive sampling sites noted in the table below. Additional bed sediment and fish tissue samples were collected at miscellaneous sites as part of an occurrence and distribution survey. Synoptic studies of bacteria and algal-nutrient relations also were conducted as noted on the next page. Streamflow and chemistry data for surface water, ground water, fish tissue, and bed sediment are available at: https://wy.water.usgs.gov/infodata/index.html. Taxonomic data for biota are available at: https://wy.water.usgs.gov/projects/yell/data.html.
Table 1. (37Kb PDF file) Basic and intensive stream sampling sites, Yellowstone River Basin, 1999-2001.
Table 2. (58Kb PDF file) Stream chemistry, stream ecology, and ground water chemistry.
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