Surface water-quality and water-quantity data from selected urban runoff-monitoring sites at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado, water years 1988-2004

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5214
By: , and 

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey has monitored the quality and quantity of streamflow at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) northeast of Denver, Colorado, since the early 1990s in cooperation with the U.S. Army. This report, prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, documents existing surface-water-quality conditions on the RMA. All RMA water-quality data for the Irondale Gulch and First Creek Basins adjacent to and on the RMA were reviewed. Where applicable, water-quality data were compared to State standards established by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. At both the Havana Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station and the Uvalda Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station, all of the dissolved-oxygen concentrations met the State standard requiring at least 5.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved oxygen for the protection of aquatic life. In contrast, the dissolved-oxygen concentrations at the Peoria Interceptor below 56th Avenue gage commonly were less than 5.0 mg/L. Excluding one suspect concentration of 1.6 mg/L, the dissolved-oxygen concentrations for the First Creek Basin ranged from 4.2 to 12.6 mg/L. Excluding the one suspect value, three dissolved-oxygen concentrations failed to meet the State standard of 5.0 mg/L at the First Creek below Buckley Road site. At the Peoria Interceptor below 56th Avenue site, all pH values were within the range specified by the State standard (6.50-8.99). Results of seven sampling events at the Havana Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station indicated a pH greater than or equal to 9 (pH values of 9 or greater exceed the upper limit of the standard). No sampling events indicated a pH less than 6.50. Results from one sampling event at the Uvalda Interceptor below 56th Avenue indicated pH values outside the range specified by the State standard. The concentrations obtained for chloride, magnesium, and sodium generally were below 200 mg/L at all three Irondale Gulch monitoring stations for the entire period of record, but there were a few sampling events at each of these sites where much higher concentrations for these analytes were obtained. The median concentrations for calcium, magnesium, and sodium generally were higher at the First Creek below Buckley Road site than in the three Irondale Gulch sites, while the 90th percentile and maximum concentrations for magnesium and sodium generally were higher at the three Irondale Gulch sites than at the First Creek below Buckley Road site. The urban runoff flowing onto the RMA had low concentrations and few, if any, detections for most organic contaminants. Part of the reason for low detections of organic contaminants may be in how the samples are collected. The existing surface-water sampling program was not designed specifically to target storm runoff and therefore does not characterize water quality for all hydrologic regimes, most notably storm runoff. As a result, the existing data may not adequately represent potential contaminant transport onto the RMA. In addition, during stormwater-runoff events, the sites examined for this report frequently are subject to sharp increases in discharge, and just as quickly the discharge rapidly recedes. These types of transient flow events make water-quality sampling difficult, and none of the sites have a safe place to sample the higher flows that occur in any given year. As a result, most of the surface-water-quality samples were collected after the flow had decreased substantially from the peak flow, which may have transported much of the chemical contaminant load through the system. Thus, little is known about the water quality during the critical initial stormwater-runoff period when contaminants are most likely to be mobilized and transported through the stormwater conveyances past the locations where gaging stations are located.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Surface water-quality and water-quantity data from selected urban runoff-monitoring sites at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado, water years 1988-2004
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2005-5214
DOI 10.3133/sir20055214
Edition Online only
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description 29 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
Other Geospatial Commerce City, Rocky Mountain Arsenal
Online Only (Y/N) Y