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Sediment deposition and trends and transport of phosphorus and other chemical constituents, Cheney Reservoir watershed, south-central Kansas

October 1, 2001

Sediment deposition, water-quality trends, and mass transport of phosphorus, nitrogen, selected trace elements, and selected pesticides within the Cheney Reservoir watershed in south-central Kansas were investigated using bathymetric survey data and reservoir bottom-sediment cores. Sediment loads in the reservoir were investigated by comparing 1964 topographic data to 1998 bathymetric survey data. Approximately 7,100 acre-feet of sediment deposition occurred in Cheney Reservoir from 1965 through 1998. As of 1998, sediment had filled 27 percent of the reservoir's inactive conservation storage pool, which is less than the design estimate of 34 percent. Mean annual sediment deposition was 209 acre-feet per year, or 0.22 acre-feet per year per square mile, and the mean annual sediment load was 453 million pounds per year. During the 3-year period from 1997 through 1999, 23 sediment cores were collected from the reservoir, and subsamples were analyzed for nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen species), selected trace elements, and selected organic pesticides. Mean concentrations of total phosphorus in reservoir bottom sediment ranged from 94 milligrams per kilogram at the upstream end of the reservoir to 710 milligrams per kilogram farther downstream near the reservoir dam. The mean concentration for all sites was 480 milligrams per kilogram. Total phosphorus concentrations were greatest when more silt- and clay-sized particles were present. The implications are that if anoxic conditions (inadequate oxygen) occur near the dam, phosphorus could be released from the sediment and affect the drinking-water supply. Analysis of selected cores also indicates that total phosphorus concentrations in the reservoir sediment increased over time and were probably the result of nonpoint-source activities in the watershed, such as increased fertilizer use and livestock production. Mean annual phosphorus loading to Cheney Reservoir was estimated to be 226,000 pounds per year on the basis of calculations from deposited sediment in the reservoir. Mean total phosphorus concentration in the surface-water inflow to Cheney Reservoir was 0.76 milligram per liter, mean annual phosphorus yield of the watershed was estimated to be 0.38 pound per year per acre, and both are based on sediment deposition in the reservoir. A comparison of the Cheney Reservoir watershed to the Webster Reservoir, Tuttle Creek Lake, and Hillsdale Lake watersheds showed that phosphorus yields were smallest in the Webster Reservoir watershed where precipitation was less than in the other watersheds. Mean concentrations of total ammonia plus organic nitrogen in bottom sediment from Cheney Reservoir ranged from 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams per kilogram as nitrogen. A regression analysis between total ammonia plus organic nitrogen as nitrogen and sediment particle size showed a strong relation between the two variables and suggests, as with phosphorus, that total ammonia plus organic nitrogen as nitrogen adsorbs to the silt- and clay-sized particles that are transported to the deeper parts of the reservoir. An analysis of trends with depth of total ammonia plus organic nitrogen as nitrogen did not indicate a strong relation between the two variables despite the increase in fertilizer use in the watershed during the past 40 years. Selected cores were analyzed for trace elements. Concentrations of arsenic, chromium, copper, and nickel at many sites exceeded levels where adverse effects on aquatic organisms sometimes occur. Larger concentrations of these elements also occurred in sediment closer to the reservoir dam where there is a larger percentage of silt and clay in the bottom sediment than farther upstream. However, the lack of industrial or commercial land use in the watershed suggests that these concentrations may be the result of natural conditions. Organochlorine insecticides were detected in the reservoir-bottom sediment in Cheney Reservoir. DDT and its degradation products DDD and DD

Citation Information

Publication Year 2001
Title Sediment deposition and trends and transport of phosphorus and other chemical constituents, Cheney Reservoir watershed, south-central Kansas
DOI 10.3133/wri014085
Authors D.P. Mau
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2001-4085
Index ID wri014085
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse