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Element concentrations and grain size of sediment from the Similkameen River above Enloe Dam (Enloe Reservoir) near Oroville, Washington, 2019

August 2, 2022

In 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a reconnaissance survey of concentrations of 41 trace elements present in bed sediment in the reservoir on the Similkameen River upstream from Enloe Dam, near Oroville, Washington. The Similkameen River drains a watershed containing highly mineralized geologic deposits with current (2019) and historical mining activity. Results of this survey indicated that surface and subsurface sediment are substantially enriched in element concentrations of silver (Ag), arsenic (As), gold (Au), bismuth (Bi), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), antimony (Sb), selenium (Se), tin (Sn), and tellurium (Te) relative to average concentrations found in upper continental-crustal material. Conversely, concentrations of mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) in sediment above Enloe Dam (Enloe Reservoir) were generally less than average concentrations in upper continental-crustal material (Hg = 0.05 milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg]; Pb =17 mg/kg). Concentrations of most trace elements were higher in the less than 63-micrometer fraction (silt) and tended to be higher in subsurface than in surface sediment. The concentrations of trace elements were compared to consensus-based aquatic toxicity reference concentrations, Washington State Department of Ecology sediment management standards, and average concentrations of upper continental-crustal material. Arsenic concentrations were consistently elevated above these criteria among samples and often exceeded sediment management standards and aquatic toxicity reference values (both threshold effects and probable effects concentrations). High concentrations of As were measured in sediment with proportionally more material in the less than 63-micrometer size fraction; this result may be related to the presence of ore-processing waste material that has entered the aquatic system from approximately 125 years of mining operations in the basin. Elevated concentrations of chromium and copper that exceed the same criteria as arsenic (As) were measured less consistently and predominantly in the fine-grain size fraction.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Element concentrations and grain size of sediment from the Similkameen River above Enloe Dam (Enloe Reservoir) near Oroville, Washington, 2019
DOI 10.3133/sir20225073
Authors Stephen E. Cox, Christopher A. Curran, Andrew R. Spanjer, Chad C. Opatz, Renee K. Takesue, J. Lynn Bell
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2022-5073
Index ID sir20225073
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Washington Water Science Center