Dissolved-selenium loading analyses of data collected at 18 water-quality sites in the lower Gunnison River Basin in Colorado were completed through water year (WY) 2014. A WY is defined as October 1–September 30. Selenium is a trace element that bioaccumulates in aquatic food chains and can cause reproductive failure, deformities, and other harmful effects. This report presents information on the dissolved-selenium loads at 18 sites in the lower Gunnison River Basin for WYs 2011–2014. Annual dissolved-selenium loads were calculated at 5 sites with continuous U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow gages, whereas instantaneous dissolved-selenium loads were calculated for the remaining 13 sites using water-quality samples that had been collected periodically during WYs 2011–2014. Annual dissolved-selenium loads for WY 2014 ranged from 336 pounds (lb) at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 13,300 lb at Gunnison River near Grand Junction (Whitewater). Most sites in the basin had a median instantaneous dissolved-selenium load of less than 20.0 lb per day. In general, dissolved-selenium loads at Gunnison River main-stem sites showed an increase from upstream to downstream.
The State of Colorado water-quality standard for dissolved selenium of 4.6 micrograms per liter (µg/L) was compared to the 85th percentiles for dissolved selenium at selected water-quality sites. Annual 85th percentiles for dissolved selenium were calculated for the five core USGS sites having streamflow gages using estimated dissolved-selenium concentrations from linear regression models. These annual 85th percentiles in WY 2014 ranged from 0.97 µg/L at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 16.7 µg/L at Uncompahgre River at Delta. Uncompahgre River at Delta and Whitewater were the only core sites where water samples exceeded the State of Colorado water-quality standard for dissolved selenium of 4.6 µg/L.
Instantaneous 85th percentiles for dissolved selenium were calculated for sites with sufficient data using water-quality samples collected during WYs 2011–2014. The instantaneous 85th percentiles for samples for WY 2014 ranged from 1.1 µg/L at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 125 µg/L at Loutzenhizer Arroyo at North River Road.
A trend analysis was completed for Whitewater to determine if dissolved-selenium loads are increasing or decreasing. The trend analysis indicates a decrease of 8,000 lb from WY 1986 to WY 2014, a 34.8 percent reduction during the time period, and an additional 6.2 percent reduction from a reported 28.6 percent reduction during WYs 1986–2008. The trend analysis for WY 1992 to WY 2014 indicates a decrease of 5,800 lb per year, or 27.9 percent.
|Title||2014 annual summary of the lower Gunnison River Basin Selenium Management Program water-quality monitoring, Colorado|
|Authors||Mark F. Henneberg|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Open-File Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Colorado Water Science Center|
Mark F Henneberg
Mark F Henneberg