Characterization and Load Estimation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) From Selected Rio Grande Tributary Stormwater Channels in the Albuquerque Urbanized Area, New Mexico, 2017–18

Open-File Report 2019-1106
Prepared in cooperation with Bernalillo County
By: , and 



In cooperation with the New Mexico County of Bernalillo, the U.S. Geological Survey characterized potential polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentration and estimated loading into the Rio Grande from watersheds that are under the county’s jurisdiction. Water and sediment samples were collected in 2017–18 from six sites within four stormwater drainage basins in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, urbanized area for the analysis of PCB congeners and other water-quality constituents during dry and wet seasons. Also, the rainfall-runoff model Arid Lands Hydrologic Model (AHYMO) was used to estimate stormwater discharge at the two sample collection sites not affected by pump station operation. Along with the PCB analysis, the discharge data were used to estimate total PCB stormflow event loads for eight events in these urban Rio Grande tributaries. PCBs were detected in 34 of 36 water samples at concentrations as high as 65.8 nanograms per liter and in 12 of 13 sediment samples at concentrations as high as 163,000 nanograms per kilogram dry weight. Six of the 36 water samples exceeded the New Mexico surface-water quality standard for protection of wildlife habitat and aquatic life of 14 nanograms per liter for PCBs. None of the water samples exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit level limit of 200 nanograms per liter for PCBs in stormwater systems discharging into the Rio Grande. PCB concentrations in water samples in this study were not linearly related to antecedent precipitation or measured water-quality parameters, but PCB concentrations had a statistically significant positive Kendall’s tau correlation with total suspended solids for water samples and with total organic carbon for sediment samples. The PCB congener profiles indicate that sources to stormwater drainage basins in Bernalillo County originate both from legacy sources, such as Aroclors (for example, in landfills and old building materials), and from current-use sources, such as yellow pigments (for example, in printed materials and packaging in urban litter or refuse). Total PCB stormflow event loads were calculated with average potential minimum and maximum event loads of 0.73 and 4.32 milligrams per storm event, respectively, at the Adobe Acres pump station site and 56.78 and 315.13 milligrams per storm event at the Sanchez Farms inflow at Albuquerque, N. Mex., site.

Suggested Citation

Shephard, Z.M., Conn, K.E., Beisner, K.R., Jornigan, A.D., and Bryant, C.F., 2019, Characterization and load estimation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from selected Rio Grande tributary stormwater channels in the Albuquerque urbanized area, New Mexico, 2017–18: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1106, 48 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Precipitation in Albuquerque Near the Rio Grande
  • Chemical Concentrations
  • AHYMO Rainfall-Runoff Modeling Results
  • PCB Load Estimates
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Characterization and load estimation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from selected Rio Grande tributary stormwater channels in the Albuquerque urbanized area, New Mexico, 2017–18
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1106
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191106
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New Mexico Water Science Center
Description x, 48 p.
Country United States
State New Mexico
City Albuquerque
Other Geospatial Rio Grande
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details