Water quality in a wet meadow, Platte River Valley, Central Nebraska
Fact Sheet FS-097-96
The Platte River Valley in Nebraska, and in Particular the reach from Lexington to Grand Island, is an extremely important natural habitat. Over 300 migratory bird species, including several threatened and endangered species, have been observed along the Platter River. In the spring, nearly 500,000 sandhill cranes (80 percent of the North American population) along with millions of ducks and geese use this reach as a staging and feeding area during their northerly migration. Wet meadows, grasslands that have waterlogged soils much of the year are a critical part of this migratory-bird habitat. The area of wet meadows between Lexington and Grand Island has declined as much as 45 percent since 1938 due to human activities (Sidle and others, 1989). As a result of this decline, the condition of the remaining wet meadows is of vital importance. The U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program is designed to describe the status and trends in the quality of the Nation's water resources and to provide a sound understanding of the natural and human factors that affect the quality of these resources. The Central Nebraska Basins (CNB) is one of 60 study units in the Program. Assessment of the occurrence of agricultural chemicals in the ground water is one aspect of the study.