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Assessment of metal transport into and out of Terrace Reservoir, Conejos County, Colorado, April 1994 through March 1995; interim report

Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4151

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Abstract

Terrace Reservoir is the primary source of water for crops and livestock in the southwestern part of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Mining activities have occurred in the basin for more than 100 years, and substantial mining of gold has occurred intermittently at the Summitville Mine.Historically, the Summitville Mine site has produced highly acidic, metal-enriched water that drained from the mine site into Wightman Fork and flowed to the Alamosa River and Terrace Reservoir. In 1994, a study was begun as part of risk-assessment and remediation efforts and to evaluate metal transport into and out of Terrace Reservoir. During the study period, the pH immediately upstream from Terrace Reservoir ranged from 4.3 to 7.8. The highest pH occurred during the pre-peak snowmelt period; the lowest pH occurred during storm runoff during summer. Downstream from Terrace Reservoir, the pH ranged from 4.6 to 7.6. The highest pH occurred during the pre-peak snowmelt period, and the lowest pH occurred during summer in mid-July. A comparison of the streamflow hydrographs upstream and downstream from Terrace Reservoir indicated that there was only a small difference between the annual volume of water that entered the reservoir and the annual volume of water that was released from the reservoir. Large spatial and temporal variations in concentrations of the metals of concern occurred during the study.The median and maximum concentrations of dissolved and total aluminum, iron, copper, cadmium, manganese, and zinc were larger upstream from the reservoir than downstream from the reservoir. The largest concentrations of dissolved aluminum, iron, copper, cadmium, manganese, and zinc generally occurred between mid-June and November. Throughout the study, aluminum was transported into the reservoir predominantly in the particulate or suspended form. Downstream from the reservoir, the suspended-aluminum fraction was predominant only during the pre-peak snowmelt and peak snowmelt periods. The temporal variations in the percentage of dissolved and suspended fraction of iron and copper downstream from Terrace Reservoir were similar to the temporal variations that occurred upstream from the reservoir. During the study period, cadmium, manganese, and zinc generally were transported into and out of the reservoir predominantly in the dissolved form. Metal loads varied considerably as a result of changes in streamflow or changes in metal concentrations, or both. The largest daily loads of aluminum, iron, and manganese were transported into and out of Terrace Reservoir during the peak snowmelt period.The reservoir was a sink for an estimated 294 tons of aluminum and 596 tons of iron. However, about 68.5 tons of total aluminum and about 194 tons of total iron were transported out of the reservoir during the study period. During the study period, about 22\x11tons of total copper remained in the reservoir, and 39 tons was transported downstream from the reservoir. About 47 tons of total manganese and 18 tons of total-zinc loads were transported out of the reservoir; the reservoir was a sink for only a small fraction of total-manganese and -zinc.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Assessment of metal transport into and out of Terrace Reservoir, Conejos County, Colorado, April 1994 through March 1995; interim report
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
96-4151
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1996
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey : Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor,
Description:
109 p. :ill., map ;28 cm.