The nasqan program in the mississippi river basin
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The NASQAN Program in the Mississippi River Basin. R.H. Coupe. NASQAN II Na tional S tream Q uality A ccounting N etwork. What Was NASQAN I?. Began in the early 70’s and continued through the mid 90’s Goal : to provide nationally comparable information on water quality

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Nasqan ii na tional s tream q uality a ccounting n etwork l.jpg

NASQAN IINational Stream Quality Accounting Network


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What Was NASQAN I?

  • Began in the early 70’s and continued through the mid 90’s

  • Goal : to provide nationally comparable information on water quality

  • At its peak extent, it included sampling at over 500 stations and was funded at $5 million annually


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Was the Program Successful?

Yes, the data has been used in a variety of ways:

  • To assess trends in water quality over time

  • Used extensively by States in their 305(b) assessments

  • To determine the flux of nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico and to determine sources areas for these nutrients within the Mississippi River Basin


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What Happened to NASQAN I?

  • Program objectives could not be achieved with available funding

  • Inadequate QA/QC program

  • Constituents measured did not include important chemicals, such as pesticides and trace elements

  • Relation between NAWQA and NASQAN unclear


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NAWQANational Water Quality Assessment

  • Begun in the early 90’s

  • Seeks to identify, explain, and determine status and trends in WQ conditions

  • Includes on a rotational basis >40 basins with a basin size of 10,000 to 100,000 square miles

  • Many original NASQAN stations were contained within NAWQA study units


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Big Rivers

  • Mississippi River (1.2 million square miles)

  • The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence (396,000)

  • Rio Grande (336,000)

  • Yukon (328,000)

  • Columbia (258,000)

  • Colorado (250,000)

  • Next largest river 20% less than Colorado


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NASQAN II Objectives

  • Provide an ongoing characterization of concentrations and flux of chemicals and sediment in the Nation’s largest rivers

  • Determine source areas for these materials

  • Assess the effect of human influences on the observed concentrations and flux


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NASQAN Sample Collection

  • Sampling frequency varies among stations, normally 6 to 15 samples annually, with a possibility of more during extreme high flows.

    • The number of samples depends on the expected variability of water quality at the site. Since this is a flux based program, more samples are allocated during expected high flows.



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NASQAN Samples Are:

  • Collected with appropriate equipment using standard and documented procedures

  • Depth and width integrated and velocity weighted

    • EDI or EWI with 3 to 10 verticals

    • Isokinetic samplers are used




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Physical and Chemical Measurements Include:

  • Field parameters, T, SC, turb., DO, pH, alk.

  • Discharge

  • Suspended sediment and percent <63 um

  • Nutrients

  • Major ions

  • Trace elements – dissolved and SS

  • Pesticides – water soluble


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PROCESSING : chamber used to prevent contamination.

Here filtering for trace elements with 0.45 um capsule filter and masterflex pump with Teflon tubing.




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All WRD Field Offices have something comparable to Montana’s mobile laboratory for processing in the field


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Extensive QA Program Montana’s mobile laboratory for processing in the field

  • Well defined protocols for sampling, sample processing, chemical analysis and data review

  • QC program includes:

    • All field personnel participate in the NFQA program

    • Evaluation of quality control samples, including field blanks, replicates, and field-matrix spikes

    • On site inspections


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Fluxes are computed using the rating curve method Montana’s mobile laboratory for processing in the field

The rating curve equation f(Qi) has the form:

ln(L) = ao + a1ln(Q) + a2ln(Q)2 + a3sin(t) + a4cos(t) + a5t


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NASQAN Products Montana’s mobile laboratory for processing in the field

  • Data

    • Online as soon as it is received by District

  • Interpretative

    • Presentations at meetings and conferences

    • Special volume of Hydrological Processes

    • Yield maps just published online for 1995-98



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