Lake Worth bottom sediments : A chronicle of water-quality changes in western Fort Worth, Texas, 1914-2001

Fact Sheet 2004-3077
In cooperation with the U.S. Air Force
By:  and 



In spring 2000, the Texas Department of Health issued a fish-consumption advisory for Lake Worth, Tex., because of elevated concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish (Texas Department of Health, 2000). In response to the advisory and in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected 21 surficial samples and three deeper gravity core samples from the sediment deposited at the bottom of Lake Worth. The purpose of that study was to assess the spatial distribution and historical trends of selected hydrophobic contaminants, including PCBs, and to determine, to the extent possible, sources of selected metals and hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) to Lake Worth. Hydrophobic (literally “water fearing”) contaminants tend to chemically adsorb to soils and sediments. Fifteen of the top 20 contaminants on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2001) priority list of hazardous substances are hydrophobic.

Chemical analysis of sediment cores is one method that can be used to determine trends in HOCs such as PCBs. As sediments accumulate in lakes and reservoirs, they generate a partial historical record of water quality. This fact sheet describes the collection of sediment cores, age-dating methods, and historical trends in PCBs in Lake Worth sediments. The fact sheet also describes the spatial distribution of PCBs in surficial sediments and concludes with objectives for the second phase of data collection and the approach that will be used to achieve these objectives. The USGS published a comprehensive report on the first phase of the study (Harwell and others, 2003).

Lake Worth is a reservoir on the West Fork Trinity River on the western edge of Fort Worth in Tarrant County. In 1914, the City of Fort Worth completed the reservoir to serve as a municipal water supply. Lake Worth has a surface area of 13.2 square kilometers and a storage capacity of 47 million cubic meters. The drainage area to the reservoir is 5,350 square kilometers(Ruddy and Hitt, 1990). The surrounding area to the south and east is primarily urban, and the area to the north and northwest is mostly residential.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Lake Worth bottom sediments : A chronicle of water-quality changes in western Fort Worth, Texas, 1914-2001
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2004-3077
DOI 10.3133/fs20043077
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description 4 p.
Country United States
State Texas
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