Chemical concentrations and instantaneous loads, Green River to the Lower Duwamish Waterway near Seattle, Washington, 2013–15

Data Series 973
Prepared in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Ecology
By: , and 



In November 2013, U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging equipment was installed at a historical water-quality station on the Duwamish River, Washington, within the tidal influence at river kilometer 16.7 (U.S. Geological Survey site 12113390; Duwamish River at Golf Course at Tukwila, WA). Publicly available, real-time continuous data includes river streamflow, stream velocity, and turbidity. Between November 2013 and March 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey collected representative samples of water, suspended sediment, or bed sediment from the streamgaging station during 28 periods of differing flow conditions. Samples were analyzed by Washington-State-accredited laboratories for a large suite of compounds, including metals, dioxins/furans, semivolatile compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, butytins, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) Aroclors and the 209 PCB congeners, volatile organic compounds, hexavalent chromium, and total and dissolved organic carbon. Metals, PCB congeners, and dioxins/furans were frequently detected in unfiltered-water samples, and concentrations typically increased with increasing suspended-sediment concentrations. Chemical concentrations in suspendedsediment samples were variable between sampling periods. The highest concentrations of many chemicals in suspended sediment were measured during summer and early autumn storm periods.

Median chemical concentrations in suspended-sediment samples were greater than median chemical concentrations in fine bed sediment (less than 62.5 µm) samples, which were greater than median chemical concentrations in paired bulk bed sediment (less than 2 mm) samples. Suspended-sediment concentration, sediment particle-size distribution, and general water-quality parameters were measured concurrent with the chemistry sampling. From this discrete data, combined with the continuous streamflow record, estimates of instantaneous sediment and chemical loads from the Green River to the Lower Duwamish Waterway were calculated. For most compounds, loads were higher during storms than during baseline conditions because of high streamflow and high chemical concentrations. The highest loads occurred during dam releases (periods when stored runoff from a prior storm is released from the Howard Hanson Dam into the upper Green River) because of the high river streamflow and high suspended-sediment concentration, even when chemical concentrations were lower than concentrations measured during storm events. 

Suggested Citation

Conn, K.E., Black, R.W., Vanderpool-Kimura, A.M., Foreman, J.R., Peterson, N.T., Senter, C.A., and Sissel, S.K., 2015, Chemical concentrations and instantaneous loads, Green River to the Lower Duwamish Waterway near Seattle, Washington, 2013–15: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 973, 46 p.,

ISSN: 2327-638X (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Hydrology and Field Parameter Data
  • Chemical Concentrations
  • Comparison of Suspended Sediment and Bed Sediment
  • Instantaneous-Load Estimates
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A. Analytical Laboratory Qualifier Descriptions, Result Amendments, and Complete Analytical Chemistry Results
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Chemical concentrations and instantaneous loads, Green River to the Lower Duwamish Waterway near Seattle, Washington, 2013–15
Series title Data Series
Series number 973
DOI 10.3133/ds973
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Washington Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 46 p.; Appendix
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Green River, Lower Duwamish Waterway
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details