Tracking Turbidity in the West Fork of the White River

Funding Agency: Beaver Watershed Alliance

Project Period: June 2014 to Present

Purpose: The Beaver Watershed Alliance is focused on the current 303(d) listing of impairement of the West Fork of the White River in northwest Arkansas. The West Fork is impaired because of high turbidity caused by excessive sediments from soil and streambank erosion in the watershed. The AWRC began this project with the Alliance in 2014 to better understand how water-quality changes from the upstream headwaters of the West Fork to the larger downstream sections of the river.

Objective: The Center is collecting water samples at 9 sites along the West Fork from Winslow to Fayetteville. Samples are collected 18 times each year during baseflow conditions and analyzed for turbidity and nutrients.

Goal: Preliminary data suggest that most of the river meets the water quality standard for turbidity, while only a portion of the river exceeds the standard. The goal of this project is to provide the scientific data that could be used to delist the upstream portion of the river that meets the standard.

Benefit: A lot of money is spent on restoration projects that address water quality impairements. This project can identify actual problem areas so that money and resources can be better targeted to address high turbidity levels.

Additional Resources: University of Arkansas Research Frontiers article: Tracking Turbidity in the West Fork

Sampling Sites on the West Fork of the White River, Arkansas Field personnel collects water sample in the West Fork of the White River, Arkansas West Fork of the White River at Mally Wagnon Road, Arkansas
From left to right: Map of sampling sites along the West Fork of the White River; Field technician collects a water sample at the Baptist Ford site (photo credit: Russell Cothren, University of Arkansas); and the site at Mally Wagnon Bridge near where it enters the White River.