Breckenridge Reservoir is located within the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Quantico, which is in the Potomac River basin and the Piedmont Physiographic Province of northern Virginia. Because it serves as the principal water supply for the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Quantico, an assessment of the water-quality of Breckenridge Reservoir was initiated. Water samples were collected and physical properties were measured by the U.S. Geological Survey at three sites in Breckenridge Reservoir, and physical properties were measured at six additional reservoir sites from September 2008 through August 2009. Water samples were also collected and physical properties were measured in each of the three major tributaries to Breckenridge Reservoir: North Branch Chopawamsic Creek, Middle Branch Chopawamsic Creek, and South Branch Chopawamsic Creek. One site on each tributary was sampled at least five times during the study. Monthly profiles were conducted for water temperature, dissolved-oxygen concentrations, specific conductance, pH, and turbidity measured at 2-foot intervals throughout the water column of the reservoir. These profiles were conducted at nine sites in the reservoir, and data values were measured at these sites from the water surface to the bottom of the reservoir. These profiles were conducted along three cross sections and were used to define the characteristics of the entire water column of the reservoir. The analytical results of reservoir and tributary samples collected and physical properties measured during this study were compared to ambient water-quality standards of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia State Water Control Board. Water temperature, dissolved-oxygen concentration, specific conductance, pH, and turbidity measured in Breckenridge Reservoir generally indicated a lack of stratification in the water column of the reservoir throughout the study period. This is unlike most other reservoirs in the region and may be influenced by the reservoir's relatively short length and the aerators that operate in the reservoir near the spillway. In general, the water-quality of Breckenridge Reservoir is similar to other reservoirs in the region, and the measurements made during this study indicate that the reservoir is healthy and is not in violation of published State Water Control Board ambient water-quality standards. Water samples at three reservoir sites were analyzed for 53 pesticides, but only atrazine was found to be above the laboratory minimum reporting level. Atrazine concentrations of 0.008 and 0.010 microgram per liter near the surface and bottom of the reservoir, respectively, were found at all three sampling locations. Bottom-material samples were collected for analysis of trace elements at all three reservoir sampling sites. Concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in bottom material were similar to those analyzed in other reservoirs in the region. However, most other constituents that were collected from Breckenridge Reservoir, especially iron and lead, showed much higher concentrations than the other reservoirs. During the course of the study, increased turbidity and Escherichia coli bacteria counts were observed during or after periods of increased tributary discharge, and Secchi-disk depths decreased during those same periods. These streamflow and water-quality indicators suggest a close relationship between Breckenridge Reservoir and its tributaries.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Quality of water and bottom material in Breckenridge Reservoir, Virginia, September 2008 through August 2009
U.S. Geological Survey
Virginia Water Science Center
vi, 18 p.; Appendices; PDF Download of Appendices; XLS Download of Appendices