||Glyphosate is Pervasive in US Streams and Rivers, Laura Medalie, USGS
Glyphosate is Pervasive in US Streams and Rivers
Laura Medalie1, Edward Stets2, and Wesley Stone3
1US Geological Survey, Montpelier, Vermont; 2US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 3US Geological Survey, Indianapolis, Indiana
Glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) concentrations in streams have been measured consistently at 86 sites in the US Geological Survey National Water Quality Network since 2014. Glyphosate is an herbicide used extensively on genetically altered crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat; on fallow land pre- and post-harvest applications; as well as for nonagricultural weed control for landscaping and rights-of-way. The ubiquitous use of glyphosate extends glyphosate detections in streams beyond the growing season in some areas. Detection frequencies of glyphosate and AMPA in the growing and nongrowing seasons, defined individually for sites based on average first and last frost dates in the watershed, were above 50 percent and were generally higher during the growing than nongrowing season. In all regions of the country except the Southwest (the Southwest includes most of Texas; California is in the Pacific region), concentrations of glyphosate and AMPA in streams increase in growing and nongrowing seasons and with increasing percentages of row crops in the watershed. Sites with small percentages of row crops (< 20 percent), however, do not necessarily have smaller relative concentrations; these areas might not have a seasonal cropping system (for example, multiple crops might be grown throughout the year) or they might have substantial nonagricultural glyphosate use. Regression analysis indicated that glyphosate use, season, region, land use, and crops in corn are all potentially important factors in understanding glyphosate and AMPA concentrations in streams. Sites in the Midwest have consistently high concentrations of both compounds, a couple of sites in the Pacific and Southwest regions also have high concentrations, and sites in the East have the lowest concentrations compared to other regions. Beginning with drainage areas of about 1 × 104 square kilometers, concentrations of glyphosate decrease with increases in drainage areas, perhaps degrading to AMPA, for which concentrations have no relation to basin size.
||Seasonal Methylmercury Export From the Hells Canyon Reservoir Complex, Idaho and Oregon, USA, Austin Baldwin, USGS
Seasonal Methylmercury Export From the Hells Canyon Reservoir Complex, Idaho and Oregon, USA
Austin Baldwin1, Gregory Clark1, Jesse Naymik2, Ralph Myers2, Charles Hoovestol2, Brett Poulin3, Mark Marvin-DiPasquale4, Collin Eagles-Smith5, and David Krabbenhoft6
1US Geological Survey, Boise, Idaho; 2Idaho Power Company, Boise, Idaho; 3US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 4US Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California; 5US Geological Survey, Corvallis, Oregon; 6US Geological Survey, Madison, Wisconsin
Anoxia in the hypolimnion of lakes and reservoirs can promote the conversion of mercury (Hg) to the more toxic methylmercury (MeHg) form. In the 200 km Hells Canyon Reach of the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon border, three deep (up to 90 m) reservoirs seasonally stratify for months at a time, creating anoxic conditions that promote MeHg production in the hypolimnion. As a result, both Idaho and Oregon have listed this reach of the Snake River as impaired for Hg, with fish-tissue samples regularly exceeding Idaho’s human health fish tissue criterion of 0.3 mg/kg wet weight.
In 2014, the US Geological Survey and Idaho Power Company initiated a collaborative investigation of Hg cycling and fate in the Hells Canyon reach. Primary research questions for this project include understanding the mechanisms promoting MeHg production in the hypolimnion, and the fate of the MeHg accumulated in the hypolimnion subsequent to reservoir destratification and mixing. To help answer these questions, the mass loadings of Hg and MeHg into, within, and out of the Hells Canyon complex of reservoirs were estimated using discrete water-quality data and streamflow into and out of each reservoir.
Water samples were collected biweekly from four reservoir inflow/outflow locations between 2014 and 2017 and were analyzed for dissolved and particulate Hg and MeHg. Regression models were developed to relate instantaneous Hg and MeHg loads to daily streamflow and seasonal variables. Loads were computed at various time steps over the sampling period to estimate the mass balance for each reservoir in the Hells Canyon Complex and for the complex as a whole. Results indicate that Hg inflow is ~2.9× greater than outflow, and MeHg inflow is ~1.6× greater than outflow, despite clear seasonal production and export of dissolved MeHg from the reservoir complex. Thus, overall, the reservoirs act as Hg and MeHg sinks. Findings from this study are intended to help manage the Hells Canyon Complex to minimize biological uptake and downstream export of Hg and MeHg.
||Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Faces Uncertain Future, Stacey Banks, USEPA
Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Faces Uncertain Future
Stacey Banks1, Danielle Tesch2, Khadija Walker1, Jayne Lilienfeld-Jones1, and Kathlene Butler3
1US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Chicago, Illinois; 2US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 3US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Atlanta, Georgia
This poster discusses the evolution of the national beach monitoring and notification program and is based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) 2018 performance audit of this program (Report No. 18-P-0071). Each year, Americans take millions of trips to coastal area and spend billions of dollars. Coastal counties generated an estimated $6 trillion toward the nation’s gross domestic product and 47 million jobs in 2010. Serious risks to the health of recreational swimmers, as well as serious economic consequences, can occur from sewer overflow runoff into coastal waters; water treatment plant malfunctions, animals, and more. Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000 (BEACH Act of 2000) to improve quality of coastal recreation waters and for other purposes, such as protecting public health, through a grants program administrated by the EPA. Eighteen years after the BEACH Act of 2000, 35 states and territories and 3 tribes have programs that monitor recreation waters for elevated bacteria levels and notify the public when levels are beyond established thresholds to protect human health. The EPA has created and revised recreation water quality criteria, researched additional analytical methods, created a national database accessible to the public, and reports to Congress about progress and improvements needed in the program. The future of this program is less certain, as the EPA has not requested funding for this grant program since 2012, yet Congress continues to fund it and has even introduced bills that could expand the scope of work grantees can do with the grants. Additionally, the EPA no longer tracks the two performance measures associated with the grant program. Despite the uncertainty, the program continues to evolve by developing new analytical methods, such as rapid testing and predictive modeling.
||Temporal Variability of Nutrients and Agrichemicals in Waterways Across Illinois, Alycia Bean, University of Idaho
Temporal Variability of Nutrients and Agrichemicals in Waterways Across Illinois
Alycia Bean1, Jonathan Ali2, Brandon Noble2, Shannon Bartelt-Hunt2, Sarah Olson3, and Alan Kolok1
1Idaho Water Resources Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho; 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska; 3Water Resources Program, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho
The objective of this research was to estimate the temporal variability of nutrients, agrichemicals, and turbidity in waterways across Illinois using data collected by citizen scientists. Samples were collected at 92 locations, with at least one sample being collected on each sampling day in 28 of the 33 watersheds within the state. The project spanned a five-week period beginning on April 19 and ending on May 17, 2017. Citizen scientists, including members of the Illinois River Watch program along with other avid environmental enthusiasts conducted tests at each site. Prior to collection of the field data, a series of focus groups were assembled to evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of the water quality data obtained from the citizen scientists. This evaluation found that user experience, namely prior STEM education, had a significant impact on the accuracy of citizen science generated water quality data. Both phosphate and nitrate levels increased throughout the Spring although there were no concomitant changes in turbidity. Atrazine rarely exceeded 3 ppb, the US EPA drinking water standard, with the exception of May 3, when 22% of samples exceeded this threshold.
||Assessing Spatial Differences in Uranium Concentrations in Groundwater Along the Horn Creek Drainage in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Kimberly Beisner, USGS
Assessing Spatial Differences in Uranium Concentrations in Groundwater Along the Horn Creek Drainage in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Kimberly R. Beisner1 and Fred D. Tillman2
1US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 2US Geological Survey, Tucson, Arizona
Changes in the geochemistry of groundwater interacting with mined and unmined uranium breccia pipes in the Grand Canyon region of the southwestern United States is not well understood. The Horn Creek drainage in Grand Canyon National Park is located near the Orphan Mine, the first mined breccia pipe uranium deposit in the area, which produced uranium from 1953 to 1972 and is currently in the process of reclamation. Groundwater in the headwaters of this drainage has historically been reported to have elevated uranium concentration, while waters a half kilometer lower in the drainage have exhibited lower uranium concentration. In 2018, groundwater was sampled by USGS in the upper reaches of Horn Creek drainage at the spring source and from pools in the alluvium a half kilometer lower in the drainage. Water-quality parameters, major ion/trace element concentration, stable isotopes of water, uranium isotopes, strontium isotopes, and tritium activity were determined on each sample. Groundwater in the upper reaches of the drainage had elevated uranium concentration (257 µg/L) while groundwater emerging from the alluvium lower in the drainage had lower uranium concentration and decreased from 23 to 7.6 µg/L over a 20 m distance. Groundwater chemistry from Horn Creek drainage was compared with groundwater samples collected from springs in drainage basins surrounding Horn Creek. Laboratory tests interacting mine waste leachate with stratigraphic units of the Grand Canyon were conducted to determine the potential contribution of uranium and other trace elements from mining material as it moves through the stratigraphic units. Investigation of multiple isotopic tracers in groundwater will be used to better understand the processes affecting uranium concentrations as groundwater flows downgradient through the alluvial aquifer within the Horn Creek drainage as well as potential mixing with other sources of groundwater.
||Hormones and Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater Used for Public and Domestic Supply Across the United States, Laura Bexfield, USGS
Hormones and Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater Used for Public and Domestic Supply Across the United States
Laura M. Bexfield1, Patricia L. Toccalino2, Kenneth Belitz3, William T. Foreman4, and Edward T. Furlong4
1US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 2US Geological Survey, Sacramento, California; 3US Geological Survey, Northborough, Massachusetts; 4US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado
Previous studies have shown that some hormones and pharmaceuticals are mobile and persistent enough to occur in groundwater used for drinking water, posing a potential threat to human health, such as through endocrine disruption or antibiotic resistance. The US Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project analyzed samples from 1,091 groundwater sites across the United States for 21 hormones and 103 pharmaceuticals. Our objectives were to systematically characterize the occurrence of these organic wastewater compounds in aquifers used for drinking-water supply and to examine factors contributing to their presence. Preliminary results indicate that at least one hormone or pharmaceutical compound was detected at 6.9% of 844 sites representing the resource used for public supply across the entirety of 15 Principal Aquifers. Over subareas of 9 Principal Aquifers, at least one compound was detected at 14.2% of 247 sites representing the resource used for domestic supply. Of the 34 detected compounds, 4 were hormones and 30 were pharmaceuticals. The 6 hormone or pharmaceutical compounds detected at more than 0.5% of sites were: 1 plastics component (bisphenol A), 4 pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, methotrexate, sulfamethoxazole, and meprobamate), and the caffeine degradate 1,7-dimethylxanthine. Hormone and pharmaceutical detections ranged in concentration from 1.7 to 677 ng/L. Concentrations were compared to human-health benchmarks, available for 18 of the 34 detected compounds, to provide context. All concentrations were less than benchmarks, except for a single hydrocortisone detection at one site. Detections were most common in shallower wells with a component of modern (post-1950) recharge, particularly in crystalline-rock and mixed land-use settings. These results provide new information that can inform priorities for monitoring, research, and regulatory decision making regarding these compounds in drinking-water sources.
||Mixed-Organic/Inorganic-Chemical Exposure in USA Point-of-Use Drinking Water, Paul Bradley, USGS
Mixed-Organic/Inorganic-Chemical Exposure in USA Point-of-Use Drinking Water
Paul Bradley1, Michael Focazio2, Dana Kolpin3, Kristin Romanok4, and Kelly Smalling4
1US Geological Survey, Columbia, South Carolina; 2US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; 3US Geological Survey, Iowa City, Iowa; 4US Geological Survey, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Drinking-water from 25 sites (13 home, 12 workplace) in 11 US states was assessed at the point of use (tapwater) for 482 organics and 19 inorganics, with 6 home samples from untreated, self-supply. Seventy-one organics were detected in at least one tapwater sample, some exceeding drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level Goals. Two inorganics were frequently detected at concentrations exceeding drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level Goals. A multiple lines of evidence approach was used to evaluate potential human-health concerns of detected tapwater chemicals. These results document the widespread potential in the US for human exposure to a variety of previously uncharacterized contaminant mixtures in tapwater.
||A Gift for Streams and Rivers – More Education and Inspiration for the Oklahoma Blue Thumb Volunteers, Cheryl Cheadle, Oklahoma Conservation Commission
A Gift for Streams and Rivers – More Education and Inspiration for the Oklahoma Blue Thumb Volunteers
Blue Thumb – Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Blue Thumb water quality education program is in its 25th year. The program is known for offering citizens from middle school age and up the chance to participate in stream and river protection. Blue Thumb is best known for its stream monitoring volunteers, but recent changes to the program have welcomed another slice of the population: Those who prefer NOT to regularly test water but who are inspired to teach about protecting water resources.
This has left the Blue Thumb Program with the need to create a system that will make the best use of not only the stream monitoring volunteers, who generate quality data every month, but also the new education volunteers. Blue Thumb staff members found agreement from supervisors that it was time to bring aboard a volunteer coordinator.
The ultimate goal of this position is to make documentable stream improvement happen. Blue Thumb has spent 25 years collecting data and awakening people to their local streams and rivers and the watersheds that hold them. Blue Thumb is now poised to rocket volunteers into an atmosphere of productivity that will yield results well beyond numbers of volunteer hours reported and number of streams being monitored.
In the past the program director and all staff members shared the job of volunteer management. There is a basic goal being strived for with the creation of this position: Make documentable stream improvement take place. The designated volunteer coordinator will be able to spend more time:
- Building a top tier of educators who can take on much of the work for which Blue Thumb staff members are requested (staffing exhibits, demonstrating pollution prevention, etc.)
- Expanding the atmosphere of unity within the program that reflects increased volunteer duties and encourages comradery and
- Tracking education efforts in conjunction with data results.
This presentation will not be a review of a position description but will instead cover the need for effective volunteers, recent data and observations on environmental attitudes, and the approaches being taken to ice the Blue Thumb cake with this new layer of education volunteers.
||Source Water Assessment Developments and What’s New at The Water Research Foundation, Michael Dirks, The Water Research Foundation
Source Water Assessment Developments and What’s New at the Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation, Denver, Colorado
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) recently continues to move into a unified direction for safe drinking water and clean water research needs providing relevant and impactful research to the water sector. As the industry looks to the future for One Water solutions, WRF’s dynamic research repertoire evolves to meet the changing needs of our utility subscribers. This presentation will highlight published resources in source water protection, assessment and risk management frameworks research. as describe relevant research programming and opportunities for the National Water Quality Monitoring Council community to access ongoing research from the utility perspective.
In particular, the “Evaluation of Risk Management Frameworks and Tools and their Application for Managing Source Water Risks in the US (#4748)” will be described and summarized as an example of collaborative, utility research planning. This presentation will provide a snapshot of resources from the project with details on how to access the information.
To address future research needs, it will be important to share the integrated water management developments for strategic research and the source water protection knowledge base from WRF.
||Comparison of Sampling and Analytical Methods Used in Studies of Methane in Groundwater in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Joseph Duris, USGS
Comparison of Sampling and Analytical Methods Used in Studies of Methane in Groundwater in Northeastern Pennsylvania
Joseph Duris and Lee Eicholtz
US Geological Survey PAWSC, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
The US Geological Survey (USGS) Pennsylvania Water Science Center (PAWSC) has increased efforts to collect methane and other groundwater-chemistry data in the area of natural-gas development from the Marcellus Shale. Since 2007, 10 groundwater studies, that included analysis of dissolved methane, have been conducted. Seven of the ten studies were baseline groundwater assessments in Pike, Wayne, Sullivan, Lycoming, Potter, Clinton, and Bradford counties. Water samples from domestic-supply wells were analyzed for physical and chemical characteristics including nutrients, major ions, metals, and trace elements, volatile organic compounds, gross alpha and beta particle activity, uranium, and dissolved gases including radon-222 and methane. Dissolved methane data in groundwater is especially important to these efforts because 1) the occurrence and distribution of methane was poorly understood before these and other recent studies, and 2) there has been heightened concern that unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development could release deep thermogenic methane into shallow groundwater. While methane analysis is a key aspect of recent monitoring and groundwater characterization, no consensus method exists for sampling and analysis. This has led to variation in sample bottles, sampling tubing, bottle filling methods, sample preservation and analytical differences. To assess variation introduced by sampling and analytical variability, the PAWSC re-sampled a subset of 16 previously-sampled wells having methane that spanned four orders of magnitude of methane concentration. Samples from each well were collected using 5 different sampling methods and were analyzed, in duplicate, at 5 laboratories used in the recent groundwater-quality studies. Preliminary analysis indicates there is generally good agreement between replicates processed by the same lab, and that percent deviation in reported methane concentrations is greatest near the method reporting limits (concentration from 0.01–0.09 mg/L) and at concentrations greater than10 mg/L. The well water with the largest mean concentration (60 mg/L) also had the most deviation with a range of methane concentrations from 3mg/L to 150 mg/L. The methods and results of the methane comparisons study will be described, and the implications of findings discussed.
||Integrating Potential Wetland Restoration Site Identification Into Watershed Planning for Water Quality Improvement, Dan Dvorett, Oklahoma Conservation Commission
Integrating Potential Wetland Restoration Site Identification Into Watershed Planning for Water Quality Improvement
Dan Dvorett, Brooks Tramell, Sarah Gallaway
Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
As wetlands continue to be degraded and removed from the landscape, wetland restoration is critical to restore the many functions wetlands provide, including their ability to store and remove contaminants. Identifying restoration sites with a high potential for success to improve water quality can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Oklahoma Conservation Commission has developed a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) protocol to identify potential historic wetlands for restoration. Restoration sites are primarily identified based on the presence of hydric soils, topography, and potential to re-establish hydrology. Sites are prioritized based on their potential to restore downstream water quality, by integrating wetland size, watershed area, and surrounding land-use into a ranking system. To date this protocol has been applied in 8 watersheds in Oklahoma, with statewide application set for 2019. Field verification has validated that this approach can be useful as a restoration screening tool. In order to promote restoration at locations with high potential to improve water quality, the priority sites identified are entered into a statewide database of potential restoration opportunities. This database, or Wetland Registry, connects parties in need of restoration sites with landowners interested in restoration opportunities. The Wetland Registry can be searched using fillable forms available at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission website (www.occ.gov/wetlands).
||The Dragonfly Mercury Project: Biosentinel Mercury Concentrations and Landscape Drivers Across US National Parks, Colleen Flanagan Pritz, National Park Service
The Dragonfly Mercury Project: Biosentinel Mercury Concentrations and Landscape Drivers Across US National Parks
Colleen Flanagan Pritz1, Sarah Nelson2, Collin Eagles-Smith3, James Willacker3, and Megan Hess4
1National Park Service Air Resources Division, Lakewood, Colorado; 2School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, Maine; 3US Geological Survey Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, Oregon; 4Program in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine
The Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP) is a national scale study tying research on mercury (Hg) pollution risks to protected lands with citizen engagement and education. The program purpose is to: (1) Increase the understanding of Hg contamination in national parks across the US using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels; (2) Engage citizen scientists in the collection of dragonfly larvae; and (3) Inform National Park Service (NPS) policy and management decisions. Dragonfly nymphs are useful biosentinels for Hg spatial patterns because they inhabit many freshwater habitats, are relatively sedentary, and as predators, contain almost all of their Hg as the toxic methylmercury (MeHg). The DMP began in 2011 and represents samples collected across over 100 diverse national parks. As of 2017, a total of 127 freshwater lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams, and river sites have been sampled across 34 national parks. Preliminary results indicate that the mean (± SE) THg concentration in dragonfly nymphs was 141.1 ± 2.5 ppb dry weight (dw). We observed 76-fold variation between the sites with the greatest (> 1000 ppb, dw) and least (~20 ppb, dw) THg concentrations across parks, and up to 44-fold variation among sites within a single park. These preliminary findings highlight the importance of spatial variability at the scale of individual water bodies. By linking dragonfly THg concentrations with data on water and sediment Hg, water chemistry, and watershed characteristics, the DMP will provide valuable insights into the drivers of, and potential vulnerability to, MeHg bioaccumulation in the NPS’s aquatic resources. Early analyses suggest that dragonfly larvae with Hg concentrations less than about 315 ppb, dw are likely to be in the lowest risk category. While mercury risk is relatively low among parks, mercury hotspots exist in particular sites within parks. The DMP sparks public interest in biodiversity and participatory science, as well as communicating key messages about air quality and mercury risk. Since 2009, over 3,705 citizens have participated in the project, providing the scientist team with 8,769 dragonfly samples and making the research possible across a broad spatial scale.
||Arsenic Levels of San Gabriel Ground and Surface Waters, Bryan Giberson, Cal Poly Pomona
Arsenic Levels of San Gabriel Ground and Surface Waters
Bryan Giberson and Stephen Osborn
Cal Poly, Pomona, California
Arsenic, a toxic element common in the Earth’s crust, is found in varying concentrations throughout soil and water. Geogenic (naturally occurring) arsenic contamination of drinking water has been found to correlate with both oxidative dissolution of sulfide minerals and reductive dissolution of iron oxyhydroxides to which it is bound. Extensively studied contamination as high as hundreds of μg of arsenic per liter of groundwater in Bangladesh has been associated with redox conditions which periodically vary with flood and dry seasons. Periodic wet and dry seasons also characterize southern California; arsenic concentrations in excess of the 10 μg per liter EPA drinking water standard have been found in water samples from the San Gabriel Mountains watershed, an area which supplies one third of the drinking water for Los Angeles. We collected water samples at locations (n = 12) of perennial springs and streams in the San Gabriel Mountains over the course of months, measuring arsenic concentrations during both wet and dry seasons.
||We Are All Downstream: Contaminants of Emerging Concern During De Facto Water Reuse, Susan T. Glassmeyer, USEPA
We Are All Downstream: Contaminants of Emerging Concern During De Facto Water Reuse
Susan T. Glassmeyer1, Edward T. Furlong2, Dana W. Kolpin3, and Marc A. Mills4
1US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio; 2US Geological Survey, National Water Quality Laboratory, Denver, Colorado; 3US Geological Survey, Central Midwest Water Science Center, Iowa City, Iowa; 4US Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio
While some communities are exploring direct potable reuse, de facto reuse (DFR) is occurring in many locations across the United States (i.e., unintentional indirect potable reuse from drinking water intakes being downstream of wastewater treatment plant outfalls). DFR may increase the possibility of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) being present in the source water, and potentially the corresponding treated drinking water. We investigated one watershed with a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) upstream of a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) intake. The DFR at the intake was estimated to be 2.6 % during mean stream flow. There were no tributaries between the WWTP outfall and the DWTP intake, allowing for an investigation of fate and transport of CECs without the need to account for additional dilution. Of the 236 chemicals monitored in the study, 140 were detected at least once in the effluent, and 49 were detected at least once in the treated drinking water. Across the three sampling rounds of the study (October 2014, April 2015, and August 2015), 72 chemicals were always detected in the effluent, while only 5 chemicals were always detected in the treated drinking water; four of those five were disinfection by products, and the fifth was sucralose. When the overall concentration patterns were examined, most of the organic chemicals were clearly introduced into the water system through the WWTP effluent. In contrast, inorganic chemicals showed a more mixed source, with some exhibiting a wastewater source while others maintained a nearly constant concentration up- and downstream of the WWTP outfall.
||Watershed Assessment Modelling to Identify Sources of Nutrient, Sediment and Pathogen Pollution for Strategic Planning in a Coastal Watershed., Meg Harris, Whatcom Conservation District
Watershed Assessment Modelling to Identify Sources of Nutrient, Sediment and Pathogen Pollution for Strategic Planning in a Coastal Watershed
Meg Harris, Nichole Embertson, and Andrew Phay
Whatcom Conservation District, Lynden, Washington
Watershed assessments allow land managers to create strategic plans and prioritize funding and technical assistance when resources are limited. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) provides a framework for watershed assessment to support long-term watershed planning and prioritize resources. The Tenmile Watershed located in Whatcom County, Washington was selected as a pilot watershed for the 2017 NWQI assessment. The primary objective of the assessment was to identify critical source areas (CSAs) within the watershed that were most susceptible to nutrient, sediment and pathogen export based on physical (terrain) features and land use. Secondary objectives were to model the effectiveness of conservation practices within the watershed and create an outreach plan for engaging landowners in the watershed improvement process. The NWQI watershed assessment was part of a broader effort to address water quality impairments that threaten the valued recreational uses and shellfish harvest within Whatcom County’s streams and marine waters.
NOAA’s open-source Nonpoint Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool (OpenNSPECT) was used to model potential water quality CSAs across the landscape. Spatial data representing terrain features, precipitation, and land use cover within the watershed were collected, aggregated and input into the model. The model identified CSAs for N, P, pathogens, and sediment, as well as a combined ranking. OpenNSPECT was then used to model the effects of implementation of different conservation practices on pollutant reduction. The modelling efforts were ultimately used to inform technical recommendations for land managers and outreach strategies for participating partner agencies.
This presentation will present the results of the watershed assessment model for the Tenmile Watershed and will offer considerations for how watershed assessment modelling could be used to inform watershed planning efforts in any watershed.
||Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring in Support of Determining Biological Response to Phosphorous Loading in Streams in Connecticut, Brittney Izbicki, USGS
Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring in Support of Determining Biological Response to Phosphorous Loading in Streams in Connecticut
Brittney Izbicki and Jonathon Morrison
US Geological Survey, East Hartford, Connecticut
The US Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), implemented a dissolved oxygen monitoring program during the summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017. The study was conducted as a result of the recommendations in the report “Methods to Measure Phosphorus and Make Future Projections” by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in accordance with Connecticut Public Act No. 12-155, An Act Concerning Phosphorus Reduction in State Waters.
Twelve rivers in Connecticut were selected for the project across a gradient of in-stream phosphorous concentrations. Continuous water quality multiparameter sondes were deployed at each site during the months of June through September to collect continuous dissolved oxygen (DO) along with water temperature, specific conductance, and pH. Phosphorus samples were also taken during the analyzed time periods at selected sites. The data collected by USGS provided information on maximum daily diurnal DO concentrations, some sites exhibited daily diurnal ranges higher than 5 mg/L. Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) and Ecosystem Respiration (ER) values will be computed to assess whole stream metabolism and to examine the differences at each site between the years.
Regression models will be developed to evaluate and correlate stressor response models using the diurnal ranges in continuous DO data, in-stream metabolism values, and phosphorous concentrations at selected streams.
The goal of the project is to improve the USGS statewide data collection program for nutrients, by helping to understand the effects of nutrient loading on aquatic biological communities. The State of Connecticut has many rivers with phosphorus loading from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and nonpoint source runoff. Information on diurnal dissolved oxygen concentrations and phosphorous concentrations and loads will help determine appropriate phosphorous reductions required to meet Connecticut water-quality standards for inland non-tidal waters.
||Bioaccumulation of Selenium and Mercury in Fish Tissues of an Urban Watershed and Reservoir, Denver Colorado, Nathan Jahns, GEI Consultants, Inc.
Bioaccumulation of Selenium and Mercury in Fish Tissues of an Urban Watershed and Reservoir, Denver Colorado
Nathan Jahns, Shai Kamin, and Craig Wolf
GEI Consultants, Inc., Denver, Colorado
A portion of the Cherry Creek Watershed (Denver, Colorado) sits on natural deposits of selenium-rich, sub-surface marine shales. Natural weathering results in elevated selenium water and fish tissue concentrations in tributaries to Cherry Creek Reservoir. The watershed also lies in a populated urban area, which contributes to mercury concentrations. Elevated selenium concentrations raise concern for aquatic life use in the Reservoir, while the mercury concentrations raise concern for fish consumption.
In the Cottonwood and Lone Tree Creek tributaries, 85th percentile selenium concentrations often exceeded the chronic water quality criterion (4.6 µg/L) and selenium geomean whole-body fish tissue samples ranged from 6.3 to 24.6 and 12.6 to 17.5 mg/kg dry weight (dw), respectively, over a multi-year study. Water selenium concentrations differed between sites with elevated selenium typically occurring above shale. While tissue concentrations in these tributaries often exceeded the EPA whole-body tissue criterion of 8.5 mg/kg dw, muscle tissues from Walleye collected from the Reservoir ranged from 2.65 to 6.0 mg/kg dw and were considerably less than the EPA muscle-based tissue criterion (11.3 mg/kg dw). The Reservoir does not overlay shale and shows no reasonable potential to exceed the EPA water quality and fish tissue-based criterion.
In Cherry Creek, total mercury water concentrations ranged from 0.00065 to 0.00192 µg/L which are below the current water quality standard for Cherry Creek Basin Segment 1 (0.01 µg/L). Mercury fish tissues concentrations ranged from 0.038 to 0.162 mg/kg wet weight (ww) for multiple species. In the Reservoir, concentrations ranged from 0.019 to 0.069 mg/kg ww for Walleye. All concentrations were well below the EPA tissue-based consumption criterion of 0.3 mg/kg ww.
||Fish Tissue Monitoring Recommendations to Support the Implementation of the EPA’s 2016 304(a) Recommended Freshwater Chronic Aquatic Life Selenium Criterion, Karen Kesler, USEPA
Fish Tissue Monitoring Recommendations to Support the Implementation of the EPA’s 2016 304(a) Recommended Freshwater Chronic Aquatic Life Selenium Criterion
Karen Kesler, Lareina Guenzel, and Julianne McLaughlin
US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia
The 2016 304(a) recommended freshwater chronic selenium criterion for aquatic life is composed of four criterion elements, two fish tissue elements (egg-ovary and whole body/muscle) and two water column criterion elements (monthly average exposure for lotic and lentic waters and intermittent exposure). This criterion is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s first tissue-based criterion for the protection of aquatic life. To support the implementation of this criterion, the EPA is developing Technical Support for Fish Tissue Monitoring for Implementation of EPA’s 2016 Selenium Criterion. This document would provide recommendations and considerations for designing a fish tissue monitoring plan for the assessment of the selenium criterion and for the development of site-specific water column criterion elements. It would provide information to help states and authorized tribes decide which fish species it should target for sampling, which type of fish tissue to sample (egg-ovary, whole body, or muscle), how to collect fish samples (individually or as composites), and what to consider when selecting sampling locations. In addition, it would provide considerations for how to utilize existing tissue monitoring programs that are typically designed to assess human health risks. Lastly, this document would present information on analytical chemistry methods and data analysis. One of the recommendations that is unique to this criterion is the recommendation to collect egg-ovary samples for assessments. While states and authorized tribes have considerable discretion when selecting the fish tissue type to be used in their sampling protocols; EPA recommends sampling egg-ovary for assessment of the selenium criterion, if possible, and this document would provide monitoring considerations specific to egg-ovary sampling. This document is being developed in tandem with three other documents that address recommendations for the implementation of the selenium criterion, including for criterion adoption, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, and Clean Water Act sections 303(d) and 305(b) assessments, listings, and total maximum daily loads.
The views expressed in this abstract are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
||Potential Drivers of Salinity Trends in Rivers and Streams of the US: 1992–2012, Gretchen Oelsner, USGS
Potential Drivers of Salinity Trends in Rivers and Streams of the US: 1992–2012
New Mexico Water Science Center, US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Excessive salinity in stream water can have adverse effects on human health and the environment, increase the costs of water treatment for human consumption, and damage water infrastructure, ultimately limiting potential water uses. There are many factors that contribute to the total loading of dissolved inorganic salts (salinity) to rivers and streams including basin geology, evaporation, precipitation, irrigation, wastewater, atmospheric deposition, and road salt usage. While salinity contributions from geologic sources are relatively constant, other sources vary over time and exhibit seasonal patterns. Natural variability in climate and variable rates of chemical weathering influence salinity. However, increases in salinity are often driven by anthropogenic inputs and accelerated weathering of geologic sources. Once thought to be a problem restricted to arid regions, salinization of freshwater is now recognized as a global environmental concern. Previous studies have shown that salinity is increasing rapidly in urban and developed areas and to a lesser extent, in agricultural landscapes. Furthermore, salinity has decreased in some arid Western watersheds. To explore major drivers of salinity changes in rivers and streams, structural equation modeling was used to test direct and indirect effects of natural and anthropogenic changes in the watershed on trends in salinity loads across the conterminous United States. Changes in salinity were explored over a 20-year period (1992–2012). Using a structural equation model to compare the numerous factors contributing to salinity changes across land use types and geographic regions will provide a better understanding of the major drivers of changes in salinity.
||Lessons Learned: USGS Response to Epic Flooding in the Columbia and Mississippi River Basins, Stanley Skrobialowski, USGS
Lessons Learned: USGS Response to Epic Flooding in the Columbia and Mississippi River Basins
Stanley Skrobialowski1 and Mark Landers2
1US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; 2US Geological Survey, Norcross, Georgia
Epic flooding in the Mississippi and Columbia River basins in 2011 signaled the need for the US Geological Survey (USGS) to train and equip field sample crews to safely collect water-quality samples and data. As a result of the flooding, the USGS Office of Water Quality commissioned the fabrication of 3 additional D-99 collapsible bag samplers for water and suspended sediment and strategically positioned them for deployment on short notice. These heavy, large-volume, collapsible-bag isokinetic samplers (the D-99 and D-96) are required to properly collect a variety of water-quality samples in streams and rivers where depths commonly exceed 15 feet such as some in the USGS National Fixed Site Network and Cooperative Program. USGS Water Science Centers contribute substantially toward training personnel and acquiring infrastructure in order for field sample crews to properly and safely deploy these samplers. Field crews must be familiar with a combination and variety of boats, vehicles, booms, reels, cranes and hydrologic conditions to safely deploy and recover the samplers. The isokinetic performance of bag samplers varies according to stream velocity, depth, and stream temperature and, therefore, the performance must be tested and documented before each sample is collected. This event precipitated a response to monitor for a potential Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Pontchartrain.
||Evaluating Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Alternatives: Fish Plug Samples Versus Homogenized Whole Fillets, Leanne Stahl, USEPA and Blaine Snyder, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Evaluating Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Alternatives: Fish Plug Samples Versus Homogenized Whole Fillets
Leanne Stahl1, Blaine Snyder2, Harry McCarty3, Tara Cohen2, and John Healey1
1US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia; 2Tetra Tech, Owings Mills, Maryland; 3CSRA, LLC, a General Dynamics Information Technology company, Alexandria, Virginia
Investigating the bioaccumulation of contaminants in fish continues to be an important area of research necessary for human health protection and risk communication associated with fish consumption. Recently, fish plug (or biopsy punch) sampling is being applied in some fish monitoring programs as a more cost-effective alternative to obtain contaminant data (mercury data in particular) than the routine approach of removing, homogenizing, and analyzing entire fillets. EPA’s Office of Science and Technology within the Office of Water is conducting a Fish Plug Evaluation Study to address the fundamental question of comparability between fish fillet plug sample vs. homogenized whole fillet tissue results for mercury and selenium, i.e., to determine if fillet plugs are a reliable surrogate for traditional whole fillet sampling and analysis. Initiated in June 2017, the study involves collecting and analyzing a total of 1260 samples (900 for mercury and 360 for selenium) from two major waterbody types (three Great Lakes and three mid-Atlantic rivers) and from six target species to thoroughly test the comparability of mercury and selenium results from field-extracted fillet plugs, lab-extracted fillet plugs, and homogenized whole fillets. Study results will be used to determine if fish plug sampling and analysis can be applied as a technically comparable alternative to homogenizing and analyzing whole fillets for mercury or selenium.
||Exploring the Utility of Monitoring Surface Water for Dissolved Methane in the Marcellus Shale Region of the Susquehanna River Basin, USA, Luanne Steffy, Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Exploring the Utility of Monitoring Surface Water for Dissolved Methane in the Marcellus Shale Region of the Susquehanna River Basin, USA
Luanne Y. Steffy
Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Natural gas production from shale formations has increased rapidly in the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB) since 2008 because of technological advances which allow gas extraction through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as the unconventional natural gas (UNG) industry. After ten years of UNG development, there remains a great deal of public concern about the industry’s environmental impacts on potentially adverse impacts to surface and groundwater resources. Of concern is potential groundwater contamination caused by methane migration from improperly cased wells and vertical migration through geologic fractures. The primary focus of this research is validation of a method using stream methane monitoring as a screening tool for potential contamination of water supply in public and private wells. Because methane is an easily volatized gas, its persistent presence in surface water can indicate a groundwater source, which is especially problematic in areas where groundwater is a main source of drinking water for local residents. During 2016–2018, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission completed a research effort in headwater streams to validate a method of methane detection and classification used previously by the U.S. Geological Survey as a potential screening tool for compromised gas well casings. Data showed promising results for consistent detection of dissolved methane in surface water as well as discrimination between biogenic, originating from bacterial sources, and thermogenic, originating from geological features, methane using stable isotope analysis. No thermogenic methane was detected in surface water at reference sites with no UNG wells. However, multiple lines of evidence point to the presence of thermogenic methane in at least two watersheds where UNG well density is high. This method is a fairly inexpensive way to monitor impacts of the UNG industry and provides a relatively rapid tool to screen for potential methane leakage into groundwater and identify areas were further investigation of well casing integrity should occur.
||An Overview of Oregon Water Science Center Quality Assurance Procedures for Continuous Water Quality Temperature Monitoring, Marc Stewart, USGS
An Overview of Oregon Water Science Center Quality Assurance Procedures for Continuous Water Quality Temperature Monitoring
Marc Stewart and Carrie Boudreau
US Geological Survey Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, Oregon
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of monitoring stream flow. Increasingly water temperature has become a key parameter of concern for both research scientists and cooperators. Like stream flow, water temperature plays a role in most physical and biological processes in streams. The USGS Oregon Water Science Center (ORWSC) has over 150 real time continuous water temperature sites and many of these are funded by cooperators as part of required monitoring of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs). This poster will provide an overview of the current ORWSC program, present the current QA procedures, offer suggestions on streamlining data processing in the future.
||Monitoring Cyanobacteria Blooms in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon: A Closer Look at Techniques and Methods, Olivia Stoken, USGS
Monitoring Cyanobacteria Blooms in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon: A Closer Look at Techniques and Methods
Olivia Stoken1, Liam Schenk1, and Tamara Wood2
1US Geological Survey, Klamath Falls Field Station, Klamath Falls, Oregon; 2US Geological Survey, Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, Oregon
Since 2011, the US Geological Survey has been monitoring large cyanobacteria blooms that degrade water quality during summer months in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Monitoring includes discrete water quality samples to measure cyanobacteria cell concentrations and deployment of continuous water quality sensors that measure fluorescence of phycocyanin, a pigment found in fresh water cyanobacteria. Regression models created from the discrete cyanobacteria samples are used to convert continuous phycocyanin fluorescence data into cyanobacteria cell concentrations. Over the past eight field seasons, several sampling techniques and sensors have been used which creates the possibility of discrepancies in the long-term data sets. We examine transitioning from YSI 6 series to YSI EXO phycocyanin sensors and switching from instrument calibration cups to modified churn splitters as the method to gather fluorescence data related to the discrete cyanobacteria samples. A dominance shift in the cyanobacteria bloom from the typical species, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, to a different species and its impacts on phycocyanin sensors and regression models is also examined. Cyanobacteria blooms in fresh water systems are an emergent national issue because of the impacts on water quality and overall ecosystem health. As monitoring increases, it is important to understand how different techniques and methods used to monitor these blooms impact water quality data and its interpretation.
||Exploring Innovative Diatom Counting Methods for Use in Bioassessment to Improve Performance Without Additional Cost, Meredith Tyree, University of Colorado
Exploring Innovative Diatom Counting Methods for Use in Bioassessment to Improve Performance Without Additional Cost
Meredith Tyree1, Ian Bishop2, Yong Cao3, Daren Carlisle4, and Sarah Spaulding5
1University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado; 2University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island; 3Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois; 4US Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas; 5US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado
Diatoms are an important component of many water quality monitoring programs at the local, state, and national scales, but the counting protocol used by most entities does not best characterize communities for use in biological assessment applications. The traditional protocol, which calls for analysts to count a fixed number of cells, only adequately characterizes the dominant taxa, which tend to be environmentally tolerant and widespread in both clean and polluted sites. To address this problem, we compared the fixed count method to a timed presence method, which captures richness for observed/expected (O/E) models, and a stratified method, which captures both relative abundance and richness. The timed presence method produced more sensitive and precise O/E models than the traditional method, highlighting the importance of characterizing non-dominant species, but this method does not collect relative abundance data necessary for many other types of bioassessment. We will explore whether stratified counts, which retain relative abundance data, can better characterize communities for bioassessment applications than the traditional method, without additional time or cost.
||Harmful Algae Blooms As Seen Through the Lens of Land Cover/Land Use in Urban and Rural Lakes, Laura Webb, USEPA
Harmful Algae Blooms As Seen Through the Lens of Land Cover/Land Use in Urban and Rural Lakes
US Environmental Protection Agency Region 7, Kansas City, Kansas
The data presented here represent two studies done on lakes in the region. The microcystin detections and concentrations, along with nutrient concentrations and a handful of pesticide detections, will be evaluated based on watershed characteristics. Rural lakes, both from mostly undisturbed watersheds and those impacted by agriculture, will be compared to urban lakes highly impacted by urban development.
||Implications of Phytoplankton Mobility on the Assessment of Chlorophyll a Criteria, Bruce Weckworth, Hampton Roads Sanitation District
Implications of Phytoplankton Mobility on the Assessment of Chlorophyll a Criteria
HRSD, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment can lead to an over-abundance of phytoplankton, which in turn can lead to poor water quality in the nation’s waterways, including the James River. The primary concerns of increased algae growth are eutrophication, reduction of water clarity and alteration of the normal biome. In addition, certain harmful species can release toxins that are detrimental to public health and the local ecology.
Virginia water quality standards require that state waterways are capable of meeting their designated uses. Numeric criteria may be established using generic indicators of algal abundance, such as chlorophyll a, to indicate the presence of harmful algae. The James River is also unique in that nutrient waste load allocations (and VPDES limits) are driven by chlorophyll a water-quality standards whereas most of the Chesapeake Bay nutrient limits are based on DO. Current chlorophyll monitoring methods, for criteria assessment, are fixed sites as well as weekly chlorophyll mapping program (CMAP) cruises. These methods are essentially comprised of surface water monitoring and sampling. However, chlorophyll a has high spatial, temporal, and vertical variability. Assessment of chlorophyll a could be improved by vertically averaging the data and taking into account other key variables such as tidal current.
||Baseline Data Collection at Fire-Affected Wetlands, Camielle Westfall, State of Montana
Baseline Data Collection at Fire-Affected Wetlands
Camielle Westfall and Linda Vance
Montana Natural Heritage Program, University of Montana, Helena, Montana
The high-intensity and high-severity fires that have burned across the West in recent years have burned large swaths of wetland habitat in Montana. In 2018, Montana Natural Heritage Program scientists set out to collect baseline data on burned wetlands, so that we could monitor impacts and recovery over time. This poster details the approach we used to identify candidate wetlands for sampling, the screening criteria we used to evaluate fire-affected wetlands in the field, and the vegetation, water, and soils data we collected at the sites chosen for monitoring. It also includes discussion of the lessons we learned about setting up long-term monitoring of fire-affected wetlands.
||Using Hydroacoustics to Estimate Suspended-Sediment and Total Metal Concentrations on the San Juan River near Bluff, Utah, Chris Wilkowske, USGS
Using Hydroacoustics to Estimate Suspended-Sediment and Total Metal Concentrations on the San Juan River near Bluff, Utah
Chris Wilkowske1, Cory Angeroth2, and Scott Hynek2
1US Geological Survey Utah Water Science Center, Moab, Utah; 2US Geological Survey Utah Water Science Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
The US Geological Survey stream gage San Juan River near Bluff, Utah has historically provided important data on streamflow, sediment load, and dissolved solids load to Lake Powell in southern Utah. On August 5, 2015, an unintentional release of metal laden water from the Gold King Mine occurred in the head waters of the San Juan drainage. Emergency response to this release renewed interest in the concentration and chemical make-up of the suspended sediment. The purpose of this study is to deliver continuous measurements of suspended sand concentration, suspended sand median grain size, suspended silt-clay concentration, and total metal concentrations.
To accomplish the study goals of continuously monitoring the river, a dual frequency array of single frequency acoustic doppler velocimeters has been installed at the San Juan near Bluff, Utah gage. The acoustic backscatter intensity and attenuation from the instruments is recorded and used along with concurrent collection of suspended sediment samples. After a sufficient period of data collection, a site-specific model can be developed to relate the desired suspended sediment parameters to the acoustic signal following the methods outlined in US Geological Survey Professional Paper 1823 (Topping and Wright 2016). Along with the suspended sediment samples, separate water quality samples are also collected and analyzed for dissolved and particulate metals concentration. Combination of the two data sets should reveal which sediment size fraction is associated with the highest metals loads and perhaps the source of the sediment. Once a model has been developed that relates suspended sand or silt-clay concentration to metals concentration, the total annual load of suspended sediment and metals from the San Juan River can be determined. Another goal of this project is to make the concentration and load data available in near real-time by through the US Geological Survey National Real-Time Water Quality website. The real-time data could inform water quality managers in making health related advisories about the San Juan River.