Dissolved oxygen in the Tualatin River, Oregon, during winter flow conditions, 1991 and 1992

Open-File Report 95-451




Throughout the winter period, November through April, wastewater treatment plants in the Tualatin River Basin discharge from 10,000 to 15,000 pounds per day of biochemical oxygen demand to the river. These loads often increase substantially during storms when streamflow is high. During the early winter season, when streamflow is frequently less than the average winter flow, the treatment plants discharge about 2,000 pounds per day of ammonia. This study focused on the capacity of the Tualatin River to assimilat oxygen-demanding loads under winter streamflow conditions during the 1992 water year, with an emphasis on peak-flow conditions in the river, and winter-base-flow conditions during November 1992. Concentrations of dissolved oxygen throughout the main stem of the river during the winter remained generally high relative to the State standard for Oregon of 6 milligrams per liter. The most important factors controlling oxygen consumption during winter-low-flow conditions were carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand and input of oxygen-depleted waters from tributaries. During peak-flow conditions, reduced travel time and increased dilution associated with the increased streamflow minimized the effect of increased oxygen-demanding loads. During the base-flow period in November 1992, concentrations of dissolved oxygen were consistently below 6 milligrams per liter. A hydrodynamic water-quality model was used to identify the processes depleting dissolved oxygen, including sediment oxygen demand, nitrification, and carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand. Sediment oxygen demand was the most significant factor; nitrification was also important. Hypothetical scenarios were posed to evaluate the effect of different wastewater treatment plant loads during winter-base-flow conditions. Streamflow and temperature were significant factors governing concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the main-stem river.

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Dissolved oxygen in the Tualatin River, Oregon, during winter flow conditions, 1991 and 1992
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
ix, 74 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.