USGS:  Science for a changing world

Water Quality in the Central Nebraska Basins, Nebraska, 1992-1995

By R.B. Swanson
ABSTRACT: Full implementation of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) was begun in 1991 to describe the quality of the Nation's water resources using nationally consistent methods. The Central Nebraska Basins Study Unit, one of 20 study units started that year, consists of 30,000 square miles of the Platte River Basin from the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers near North Platte, Nebraska, to the mouth near Omaha, Nebraska. The findings of the investigative activities conducted from 1992 through 1995 have been summarized.

Land use appears to affect water quality dramatically. Streams with a greater proportion of rangelands, such as the Dismal River, generally had fewer occurrences and smaller concentrations of pesticides than did streams in croplands where corn and soybeans were planted extensively. The largest pesticide concentrations were detected in storm runoff following pesticide applications in cropland areas. The timing and intensity of rainfall has implications in the management of drinking-water supplies, because pesticides in storm runoff may enter alluvial aquifers as a consequence of groundwater withdrawals for drinking water. Sites with degraded water chemistry, such as Shell Creek, also commonly had degraded physical habitats. The combination of degraded physical and chemical environments often results in structurally simple fish communities. Finally, streamflow regulation of the Platte River and possibly climatic change have also altered riverine habitat impacting water quality and natural species composition.

Swanson, R.B., 1998, Water quality in the Central Nebraska Basins, Nebraska, 1992-1995 [abs.]: Ninth Platte River Basin Ecosystem Symposium, Kearney, Nebr., February 24-25, 1998, Proceedings, p. 61.

National NAWQA Page NAWQA data warehouse Nebraska related NAWQAs NAWQA Publications Page

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Created and Maintained by: Nebraska Webmaster Team
E-mail comments or questions to Ron Zelt, Central Nebraska Basins project chief

| Privacy Policy | | Disclaimer | | Accessibility | | FOIA