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Application of techniques to identify coal-mine and power-generation effects on surface-water quality, San Juan River basin, New Mexico and Colorado

January 1, 1994

Numerous analytical techniques were applied to determine water quality changes in the San Juan River basin upstream of Shiprock , New Mexico. Eight techniques were used to analyze hydrologic data such as: precipitation, water quality, and streamflow. The eight methods used are: (1) Piper diagram, (2) time-series plot, (3) frequency distribution, (4) box-and-whisker plot, (5) seasonal Kendall test, (6) Wilcoxon rank-sum test, (7) SEASRS procedure, and (8) analysis of flow adjusted, specific conductance data and smoothing. Post-1963 changes in dissolved solids concentration, dissolved potassium concentration, specific conductance, suspended sediment concentration, or suspended sediment load in the San Juan River downstream from the surface coal mines were examined to determine if coal mining was having an effect on the quality of surface water. None of the analytical methods used to analyzed the data showed any increase in dissolved solids concentration, dissolved potassium concentration, or specific conductance in the river downstream from the mines; some of the analytical methods used showed a decrease in dissolved solids concentration and specific conductance. Chaco River, an ephemeral stream tributary to the San Juan River, undergoes changes in water quality due to effluent from a power generation facility. The discharge in the Chaco River contributes about 1.9% of the average annual discharge at the downstream station, San Juan River at Shiprock, NM. The changes in water quality detected at the Chaco River station were not detected at the downstream Shiprock station. It was not possible, with the available data, to identify any effects of the surface coal mines on water quality that were separable from those of urbanization, agriculture, and other cultural and natural changes. In order to determine the specific causes of changes in water quality, it would be necessary to collect additional data at strategically located stations. (Author 's abstract)

Citation Information

Publication Year 1987
Title Application of techniques to identify coal-mine and power-generation effects on surface-water quality, San Juan River basin, New Mexico and Colorado
DOI 10.3133/wri864076
Authors C. L. Goetz, Cynthia G. Abeyta, E.V. Thomas
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 86-4076
Index ID wri864076
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization