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Water-quality data and trends in the Rapid Creek Basin, South Dakota, 1970–2020

August 22, 2022

Surface-water-quality data in the Rapid Creek Basin in South Dakota were compiled to assess basic trends in the water quality of Rapid Creek. Spatial and temporal patterns in water quality were described for major ions, sediment, total suspended solids, nutrients, field measurements, bacteria, and select metals for the period of 1970–2020, and a water-quality trend analysis was completed for sites with enough data for selected constituents.

Major ions and total suspended solids had higher median concentrations in the lower basin (downstream from the city of Rapid City) relative to the upper and middle basins. Nutrient concentrations were generally low, and increased concentrations were only detected at the sites downstream from the City of Rapid City Water Reclamation Facility. Fecal indicator bacteria (Escherichia coli and fecal coliform) concentrations were highest downstream from the main urbanized area of Rapid City.

Water-quality trends were analyzed for total dissolved solids, specific conductance, calcium, magnesium, total suspended solids, total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, and total Kjeldahl nitrogen for the period of 1979–2019. Concentrations for major ions and total dissolved solids typically changed by less than 15 percent. Total dissolved solids concentrations upstream from Rapid City were generally decreasing, whereas concentrations downstream were generally increasing. The flow-averaged geometric mean concentration of total dissolved solids at three sites upstream from Rapid City decreased overall by 3–5 percent, and concentrations at two sites downstream from Rapid City increased by at least 7 percent between 1979 and 2019. Trends in specific conductance in the Rapid Creek Basin were mixed with alternating increasing and decreasing trends at many of the sites between 1979 and 2014. Total suspended solids concentrations were observed to be decreasing at two sites analyzed for trends. Concentrations in total phosphorus were observed to be decreasing at every site analyzed for trends between 1989 and 2014. Significant downward trends in total Kjeldahl nitrogen were observed at two sites in the lower Rapid Creek Basin for the trend period of 1999–2019. The decreases in total suspended solids and nutrient concentrations in the Rapid Creek Basin could be related to several processes such as the implementation of a stormwater management plan in Rapid City, improvements to the water reclamation facility downstream from Rapid City, and residual climatic effects.

Publication Year 2022
Title Water-quality data and trends in the Rapid Creek Basin, South Dakota, 1970–2020
DOI 10.3133/sir20225086
Authors Wyatt S. Tatge, Galen K. Hoogestraat, Rochelle A. Nustad
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2022-5086
Index ID sir20225086
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Dakota Water Science Center