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Pesticide concentrations associated with augmented flow pulses in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, California

July 23, 2020

Surface-water and suspended-sediment samples were collected and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey for multiple current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates approximately every 2 weeks at up to five sites in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex before, during, and after augmented flow pulses in summer and fall 2016 and 2018 as well as during ambient flow conditions in summer and fall 2017 (no flow pulse). In 2016, augmented flows occurred during the summer (July) and required the pumping of Sacramento River water by local Reclamation Districts into the Colusa Basin Drain and Yolo Bypass Toe Drain. In contrast, augmented flows in 2018 occurred in the fall (August–September) and used agricultural tailwater (primarily rice field discharge water) to create the flow pulse. Water samples were analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey for a suite of 175 current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry laboratory methods. Suspended sediments filtered from the water samples were analyzed for 143 pesticides and degradates by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry.

During the study, 53 pesticides were detected, and all the samples contained mixtures of multiple pesticides at concentrations ranging from below method detection limits to 8,780 nanograms per liter. Pesticides used in growing rice were the dominant pesticides present at four of the five sites sampled and urban-use pesticides dominated at the remaining site. Overall, total pesticide concentrations tended to be higher at sites in the northern part of the Yolo Bypass and lower at southern sites, except for the farthest downstream site which received additional pesticide inputs from the Sacramento River. Flow-pulse water source influenced total pesticide concentrations in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, and the highest total pesticide concentrations at each site were detected either immediately before or during the flow pulse generated with agricultural tailwater in 2018. Data gathered during this study will aid the California Department of Water Resources and other agencies working in the region in adaptively managing pulse flows in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, as one of several California Natural Resources Agency’s Delta Smelt Resiliency strategies.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Pesticide concentrations associated with augmented flow pulses in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201076
Authors James L. Orlando, Matt De Parsia, Corey Sanders, Michelle Hladik, Jared Frantzich
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2020-1076
Index ID ofr20201076
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center