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Chemical quality of water and bottom sediment, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, Lahontan Valley, Nevada

December 28, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collected data on water and bottom-sediment chemistry to be used to evaluate a new water rights acquisition program designed to enhance wetland habitat in Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and in Lahontan Valley, Churchill County, Nevada. The area supports habitat critical to the feeding and resting of migratory birds travelling the Pacific Flyway. Information about how water rights acquisitions may affect the quality of water delivered to the wetlands is needed by stakeholders and Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge managers in order to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach to wetlands management. A network of six sites on waterways that deliver the majority of water to Refuge wetlands was established to monitor the quality of streamflow and bottom sediment. Each site was visited every 4 to 6 weeks and selected water-quality field parameters were measured when flowing water was present. Water samples were collected at varying frequencies and analyzed for major ions, silica, and organic carbon, and for selected species of nitrogen and phosphorus, trace elements, pharmaceuticals, and other trace organic compounds. Bottom-sediment samples were collected for analysis of selected trace elements.

Dissolved-solids concentrations exceeded the recommended criterion for protection of aquatic life (500 milligrams per liter) in 33 of 62 filtered water samples. The maximum arsenic criterion (340 micrograms per liter) was exceeded twice and the continuous criterion was exceeded seven times. Criteria protecting aquatic life from continuous exposure to aluminum, cadmium, lead, and mercury (87, 0.72, 2.5, and 0.77 micrograms per liter, respectively) were exceeded only once in filtered samples (27, 40, 32, and 36 samples, respectively). Mercury was the only trace element analyzed in bottom-sediment samples to exceed the published probable effect concentration (1,060 micrograms per kilogram).

Publication Year 2017
Title Chemical quality of water and bottom sediment, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, Lahontan Valley, Nevada
DOI 10.3133/ds1072
Authors Carl E. Thodal
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Data Series
Series Number 1072
Index ID ds1072
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Nevada Water Science Center