Beginning around 2000, abundance indices of four pelagic fishes (delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, and threadfin shad) within the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta began to decline sharply (Sommer and others, 2007). These declines collectively became known as the pelagic organism decline (POD). No single cause has been linked to this decline, and current theories suggest that combinations of multiple stressors are likely to blame. Contaminants (including current-use pesticides) are one potential stressor being investigated for its role in the POD (Anderson, 2007). Pesticide concentration data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at multiple sites in the delta region over the past two decades are critical to understanding the potential effects of current-use pesticides on species of concern as well as the overall health of the delta ecosystem. In April 2010, a compilation of contaminant data for the delta region was published by the State Water Resources Control Board (Johnson and others, 2010). Pesticide occurrence was the major focus of this report, which concluded that “there was insufficient high quality data available to make conclusions about the potential role of specific contaminants in the POD.” The report cited multiple sources; however, data collected by the USGS were not included in the publication even though these data met all criteria listed for inclusion in the report. What follows is a summary of publicly available USGS data for pesticide concentrations in surface water and sediments within the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta region from the years 1990 through 2010. Data were retrieved though the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) database, a publicly available online-data repository (U.S. Geological Survey, 1998), and from published USGS reports (also available online at http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/). The majority of the data were collected in support of two long term USGS monitoring programs—National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA; http://water.usgs.gov/ nawqa/) and National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN; http://water.usgs.gov/nasqan/)—and through projects associated with the USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology Program (http://toxics.usgs.gov/). In addition, data were collected during multiple research projects that were supported by various federal, state, and local agencies. Although these data have been previously published in some form, it is hoped that by focusing on samples collected within the delta region and presenting these data in a concise format, they will be a valuable resource for scientists, resource managers, and members of the public working to understand the role of pesticides in the POD and their potential effects on the overall health of the delta ecosystem.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
A compilation of U.S. Geological Survey pesticide concentration data for water and sediment in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta region: 1990–2010