Water Resources of North Dakota

Collection of Data to Calibrate and Verify a Water-Quality Model and Application of the Model to Determine Effects of Discharging Treated Wastewater to the Red River of the North near Fargo, North Dakota

By E. A. Wesolowski

Abstract: North Dakota Water Quality Symposium, Bismarck, North Dakota, March 25-26 1992

Data from cross-section, traveltime, and reaeration measurements and two sets of synoptic samples for a 31-mile reach of the Red River of the North near Fargo, North Dakota, were used to calibrate and verify a one-dimensional, steady-state, water-quality model. Model simulations and sensitivity analyses are used to assess the effects of discharging treated wastewater during summer streamflow conditions. The model simulates streamflow, specific conductance, water temperature, carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand, algae as chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Model simulations indicate oxidation of nitrogen and sediment oxygen demand consume most of the oxygen in the study reach. Model sensitivity analyses indicate dissolved-oxygen concentration is most sensitive to maximum algal growth rate and oxidation of ammonia downstream of wastewater discharge. The model was applied to different combinations of three hypothetical waste loads: the headwater was 75 or 50 cubic feet per second, Fargo's waste-load inflow was 15 or 40 cubic feet per second, and ammonia concentration was 5, 9, or 15 milligrams per liter. In each simulation, at least one of the water-quality standards for either ammonia, nitrate, or dissolved oxygen was exceeded and, in the worst-case scenario, all three standards were exceeded.

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