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Parameters Measured

Surface Specific Conductance

Specific conductance is a measure of the ability of water to carry an electric current. Specific conductance at real time surface water quality monitoring stations is measured in micro-Siemens per centimeter (µS/cm).

Generally, rainwater has a very low conductivity. However, as runoff flows through a watershed, the slightly acidic nature of rainwater can release ions (negatively or positively charged particles) from soil and rock which dissolve in water and increase specific conductance. These ions are commonly referred to as inorganic salts. The concentration of these salts or salinity can differ from one watershed to another depending upon the parent rock of the drainage basin. The most common inorganic salts include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, carbonate, sulfate, and chloride. Specific conductance is often used as a way to indirectly measure the salinity of water.

Runoff from agricultural and mining operations, as well as industrial and wastewater discharge can affect specific conductance.