Water-Quality Sampling at Five Hydrologic Benchmark Stations in the Western United States

Science Center Objects

The Hydrologic Benchmark Network (HBN) was established in 1963 to provide  Swiftwater Creek, MT long-term measurements of streamflow and water quality in areas of the United States that are minimally affected by human activities. Historically, the HBN has used a fixed-interval sampling strategy, however other more robust sampling strategies are now available. Trend networks, for example, can take advantage of recent advances in hydrochemical modelling to devise more powerful approaches for detecting trends that may be due to environmental changes, such as atmospheric deposition or climate change.

Historically, the HBN has used a fixed-interval sampling strategy, other more robust sampling strategies are now available. Trend networks can take advantage of recent advances in hydrochemical modelling to devise more powerful approaches for detecting trends. For example, by creating concentration-discharge models that also incorporate seasonality, it is possible to account for variations in stream chemistry due to changes in flow or season. This makes it possible to isolate trends that may be due to environmental changes, such as atmospheric deposition or climate change.

OBJECTIVES:

To develop improved sampling strategies for detecting surface-water trends in high-elevation, snowmelt dominated basins in the western United States.The five basins in the study are part of the Hydrologic Benchmark Network and include Merced River and Sagehen Creek in California, Vallecito Creek and Halfmoon Creek in Colorado, and Swiftcurrent Creek in Montana.

Halfmoon Creek near Malta, Colorado

Merced River at Happy Isles Bridge near Yosemite, California

Sagehen Creek near Truckee, California

Swiftcurrent Creek at Many Glacier, Montana

Vallecito Creek near Bayfield, Colorado