Water Resources of North Dakota

Variability of Dissolved Solids in Devils Lake, North Dakota

By Steven K. Sando and Gregg J. Wiche

Abstract: North Dakota Water Quality Symposium, Fargo, North Dakota, March 20-21 1990

Devils Lake, in northeastern North Dakota, is at the downstream part of a 3,800-square-mile closed basin in the Red River of the North drainage. The lake is of great biologic and economic significance because it serves as a major staging area for migrating waterfowl and supports an important sport fishery. Typical of many closed basin lakes, Devils Lake is characterized by large fluctuations in water level and concentration of dissolved solids. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, is conducting a 3-year study of the spatial and temporal (both seasonal and historical) variability of dissolved solids and nutrients in Devils Lake. Data are being collected at eight locations within the lake and at two surface-water inflow sights. The mass of dissolved solids in Devils Lake in 1985 was 2.54 million tons (sampling conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Sampling for this study began in September 1988. The mass of dissolved solids in September 1988 was 2.97 million tons, and the mass of dissolved solids in October 1989 was 3.12 million tons. Differences in dissolved-solids concentrations in different parts of the lake and the relation between water-level fluctuations and variability of dissolved solids are discussed.

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