Assessment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentrations in Southern Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah, 2016–17

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5065
Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation
By: , and 

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Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination related to boat use is one of the most important water-quality issues affecting Lake Powell. High concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in water are common around marinas and other areas with extensive motorboat activity because of releases of uncombusted or partially combusted oil and gasoline from boat engines. The fate of these compounds in Lake Powell is of serious environmental concern because of their toxicity and carcinogenicity and their moderate persistence once they enter the aquatic ecosystem. In 2016–17, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessed the presence and concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Lake Powell at seven sites where concentrations have historically been elevated and one site where concentrations have historically been relatively low. Semipermeable membrane devices were used to collect samples that represent time-weighted averages of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in water over one-month deployment periods. Samples were collected from the epilimnion of the lake at each of the eight sampling sites during two periods of relatively high boat use (summer), and one period of relatively low boat use (spring). Twenty-eight out of 33 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons analyzed were detected in Lake Powell during the three sampling events. During the two summer sampling events, concentrations were generally higher, and more compounds were detected, than during the spring sampling event. Twenty-two of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons analyzed in 2016–17 had previously been analyzed by the USGS in the summer of 2010 at the same 8 sites using the same collection method. Eleven of 22 compounds were detected in the summer 2010, summer 2016, and summer 2017 sampling events, and 1 was detected in the summer 2010 and summer 2017 samplings, but not in the summer 2016 sampling event. During both the current and previous sampling events, concentrations were generally higher, and more compounds were detected, at the high-use marina sites located most downstream on the lake. The consistent presence of a wide range of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the water of Lake Powell indicates chronic and (or) recent anthropogenic sources of contamination. The results from this study will provide the National Park Service with information necessary to determine if the current regulations on emission standards for personal watercraft used on Lake Powell are effective in lowering polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in the lake.

Suggested Citation

Coes, A.L., Paretti, N.V., Alvarez, D.A., and Macy, J.P., 2019, Assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in southern Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah, 2016–17: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5065, 26 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20195065.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Sampling Conditions
  • Data Quality Assessment
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentrations
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in southern Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah, 2016–17
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5065
DOI 10.3133/sir20195065
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Arizona Water Science Center, Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description v, 26 p.
Country United States
State Arizona, Utah
Other Geospatial Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Online Only (Y/N) Y