Columbia Basin Irrigation

Science Center Objects

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), in its 2000 Biological Opinion for the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (CBIP) in eastern Washington, asked for a determination of whether pesticides are present in irrigation return flows at levels that may harm or adversely affect salmon and steelhead species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. As the major resource manager of the CBIP, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) is tasked with this action of the biological opinion.

To help the USBR meet this action, the USGS is determining the concentrations of selected pesticides at four CBIP return-flows sites during irrigations seasons through 2004. The USGS will sample water from four surface-water sites in the CBIP at twelve specific time periods throughout each irrigation season. The USGS is conducting this work in conjunction with ongoing USGS work in the Columbia Basin under the USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The NAWQA program has developed procedures for sampling and analyzing pesticides in surface water that assure high-quality, representative data for many commonly used pesticides.

9722-AE7 - Collection of Pesticide Data in Columbia Basin Irrigation Project Return Flows - Completed FY2005

Problem - The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have approached the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) about sampling four surface-water sites in the Columbia Irrigation Project (CBIP) to meet the action in the NMFS 2000 Biological Opinion of whether or not selected pesticides are present in these return flows at levels that may harm or adversely affect salmon and steelhead species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Reclamation would like the USGS to conduct this work in conjunction with ongoing USGS work in the Columbia Basin under their National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The NAWQA program has developed procedures for sampling and analyzing pesticides in surface water that assure high-quality, representative data for many commonly used pesticides. Using NAWQA procedures would also assure compatibility with other NAWQA data, from both the Columbia Basin and other NAWQA study units nationally.

Objectives - The objective of this work is to determine concentrations of selected pesticides at four CBIP return-flow sites during the 2002, 2003, and 2004 irrigation seasons.

Relevance and Benefits - An important part of the USGS mission is to provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation and to enhance and protect our quality of life. The USGS Washington Water Science Center Science Plan specifically recognizes a need in the state to better understand how the quality of water within the state might impact salmon and other biota. Information gained in this study will improve the understanding of the distribution, variation, and trend of water quality within the Columbia Basin of the Central Columbia Basin/Yakima River NAWQA study area. Findings regarding water-quality conditions within the irrigated agricultural study area will help in the understanding of similar water-quality conditions in other agricultural areas elsewhere in the Nation. The Central Columbia Basin is a nationally valuable agricultural area, and work within this area is of significant interest to the Federal government. Identifying what compounds are found within these systems and how they have changed over time is of concern to local residents, Indian tribes, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Approach - The USGS will collect samples from four surface-water sites: Crab Creek near Beverly, Sand Hollow Creek upstream of the confluence with the Columbia River, Lind Coulee at State Highway 17, and Red Rock Coulee upstream of the confluence with Lower Crab Creek at twelve specific time periods throughout the irrigation season.

All samples will be analyzed at the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver, Colorado, for concentrations of common ions and selected pesticides.

Assessed quality-assurance analytes will focus on the major ions on the USGS Schedule 2701, which includes dissolved calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, alkalinity, chloride, sulfate, fluoride, iron, and manganese; the pesticides on the USGS Schedules 2001 and 2060, which include the insecticides chlorpyrifos, azinphos-methyl, carbaryl, ethoprop, diazinon, malathion, and carbofuran, and the herbicides, atrazine, simazine, DCPA, EPTC, terbacil, triallate, metribuzin, diuron, prometon, bentazon, pendimethalin, cyanazine and metalochlor.