The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has operated a water-quality monitoring network in San Francisco Bay since the late 1980s (Buchanan and others, 2015). This network includes 19 stations in the bay; currently, 8 stations are in operation (fig. 1). All eight stations are equipped with specific-conductance (which can be related to salinity) and water-temperature sensors that record measurements at 15-minute intervals.
Water quality in the bay constantly changes with the ocean tides and with seasonal and interannual differences in river inflows. Our network was designed to observe and characterize some of these changes in the bay across space and over time. Our data demonstrated a high degree of variability both in specific conductance and temperature at time scales from tidal to annual and also revealed longer term changes that are likely to influence overall environmental health in the bay.
In water year (WY) 2014 (October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014), our network measured record-high values of specific conductance and water temperature at several stations during a period of very little freshwater inflow from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and other tributaries because of severe drought conditions in California. This report summarizes our observations for WY2014 and compares them to previous years that had different levels of freshwater inflow.