thumbnail

Reconnaissance investigation of water quality, bottom sediment, and biota associated with irrigation drainage in the Owyhee and Vale Projects, Oregon and Idaho, 1990-91

Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4156

By:
, , and

Links

Abstract

A reconnaissance investigation was conducted during 1990--91 in the Owyhee and Vale projects in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, as well as at a number of sites in the Snake River and tributaries to the Snake River in the area of study. The objective of the study was to determine if agricultural drainwater entering the study area was causing, or had the potential to cause, significant harmful effects to human health, fish and wildlife, or may adversely affect the suitability of water for beneficial uses. Approximately 153,000 acres of land are irrigated annually within the areas of the Owyhee and Vale projects. Large quantities of water are required because of the semiarid climate and relatively high evaporation rates. Several reservoirs in the area are filled annually during the wet, nonirrigation season to sustain irrigation during the dry summer months. During the irrigation season, this impounded water, along with direct diversions from the Malheur, Owyhee, and Snake Rivers, is transported to the irrigated areas through a series of diversion tunnels, siphons, canals, aqueducts, ditches, and drains. Major crops grown in the area include sugar beets, alfalfa hay and other hay crops, onions, and winter wheat. Minor crops include corn, potatoes, mint, various seed crops, and fruit. In 1987, it was estimated that the following amounts of pesticides were used in the project areas: 2,4-D (21,000 lbs [pounds]), chlorpyrifos (1,000 lbs), dacthal (40,000 lbs), dicamba (320 lbs), endosulfan (2,500 lbs), ethion (11,000 lbs), malathion (24,000 lbs), parathion (5,000 lbs), and phorate (11,000 lbs). Median concentrations and values for total dissolved solids, alkalinity, sodium adsorption ratio, and hardness in the Vale project area were greater than 1.5 times those values observed in the Owyhee project area or at other Snake River locations. During irrigation (August 1990), total dissolved solids, alkalinity, sodium adsorption ratio, and hardness values increased in a downstream manner. Constituent values at drainwater sites generally were comparable to concentrations below the irrigated ureas in the Owyhee and Vale project areas. The trace elements arsenic, boron, copper, molybdenum, vanadium, and zinc were detected in most water samples; cadmium, chromium, lead, and selenium were detected in some samples at concentrations generally near the analytical reporting limit; mercury was not detected in any samples. In some water samples, concentrations of arsenic, boron, cadmium, copper, and lead exceeded State or Federal water-quality standards or criteria. Most trace elements in bottom sediment were detected at concentrations within the expected 95-percent baseline range for soils from the Western United States. Concentrations that exceeded the 95-percent baseline range for study area soils were: (1) arsenic and lead in one sample from a site in the Vale project area; (2) mercury, lead, and tin in one sample from a site in the Snake River system; (3) manganese in two samples from two sites in the Snake River system; and (4) manganese from one sample from a site in the Vale project area. Fifteen pesticides and metabolites were detected in whole-water samples collected from sites in the study area. DDT, plus its metabolites (DDE and DDD), dieldrin, endrin, 2,4-D, dicamba, and dacthal were detected in samples collected from seven or more sites. Other pesticides detected included chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, ethion, malathion, parathion, phorate, and lindane. Most of the detected pesticide concentrations generally were largest in drainwater and at the most downstream sampling locations in the Owyhee and Vale project areas. Concentrations exceeded water-quality criteria established for the protection of freshwater aquatic life in 86 percent of the whole-water samples analyzed for DDT plus its metabolites, 71 percent of the dieldrin samples, 14 percent of the endrin samples, and 10 percent of the parathion samples. Eight pesticides and

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Reconnaissance investigation of water quality, bottom sediment, and biota associated with irrigation drainage in the Owyhee and Vale Projects, Oregon and Idaho, 1990-91
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
93-4156
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1994
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; USGS Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Description:
vii, 101 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.