Resurvey of quality of surface water and bottom material of the Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana, 1999-2000

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4038



The quality of water and bottom material in the Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana, was surveyed from March 1999 to May 2000. Organochlorine, chlorophenoxy acid, and organophosphorus pesticides; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's); and trace elements were analyzed in surface water and bottom material from three sites previously sampled in a 1981-82 survey. Surface water at six sites was sampled and analyzed for selected nutrients and major inorganic ions based on their importance to human health, the health of the marshes of the Barataria Preserve, or their usefulness in tracking the circulation of Mississippi River water in the Barataria Preserve. Southern Louisiana was in a moderate to severe drought during most of the sampling period, which elevated salinity in the Barataria Preserve for at least 8 months. Specific conductance values were less than 3,000  µS/cm (microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius) in surface water throughout the Barataria Preserve from March through September 1999. Specific conductance values increased over the next 2 months and then remained between 5,000 and 6,000 µS/cm. The herbicide 2,4-D was detected in water at the two sites sampled in August 1999 but not at any site during the two other sampling times. Iron, manganese, and the trace elements copper, nickel, and zinc were detected in dissolved and whole-water samples at all three sites. Nitrite+ nitrate, as nitrogen, concentrations ranged from less than 0.002 to 0.19 mg/L (milligrams per liter). Ammonia, as nitrogen, concentrations ranged from less than 0.01 to 0.16 mg/L. Orthophosphate, as phosphorus, concentrations ranged from less than 0.002 to 0.14 mg/L. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfate, and chloride concentrations in surface water were elevated due to the marine influence on the composition of surface water in the Barataria Preserve during the sampling period. Sulfate and chloride concentrations reached 379 and 2,830 mg/L, respectively. Polychlorinated biphenyls, chlordane, and DDT were detected in bottom material. Trace elements were detected in bottom material at all three of the sampled sites. Arsenic concentrations ranged from 4 to 9 µg/g (micrograms per gram) and lead concentrations from 20 to 31 µg/g. Mercury concentrations also were above laboratory reporting levels (LRL's) for bottom material at all three sites. The herbicide 2,4-D was detected in surface water during both surveys. Other organic compounds were not detected in surface water. Mercury and chromium were detected in surface water at all three sites during the 1981-82 survey but were below LRL?s during the 1999-2000 survey. Changes in chemical characteristics of bottom material occurred during the years between the 1981-82 and 1999-2000 surveys. DDT decreased in the bottom material at Bayou Segnette near Barataria. DDE, a degradation product, increased at this site, indicating that over time, DDT concentrations are decreasing in bottom material. PCB's were present in similar concentrations (Bayou Segnette near Barataria) or increased (Bayou Segnette 4.6 miles below Westwego) from 1981-82 to 1999-2000. Cadmium concentrations consistently decreased by half or more at all three sites from 1981-82 to 1999-2000. Mercury concentrations were consistently lower at all three sites in the 1999-2000 survey, but the differences from the 1981-82 survey were small. Chromium concentrations increased at two of the three sites from 1981-82 to the present survey. At the third site, no chromium value was available for the earlier survey. Concentrations of copper and nickel increased in bottom material at the two sites on Bayou Segnette, but decreased at Kenta Canal northwest of Westwego. Probable Effects Levels (PEL's) and Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines (ISQG's) concentrations, as tabulated by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the  of the Environment, were used to assess the probability of biological impairment in the Barataria Preserve. PEL’s are concentrations of a chemical at or above which some biological impairment is likely. ISQG concentrations are those at or below which biological impairment is unlikely. Concentrations of 2,4-D and trace elements, when detected in surface water, were substantially lower than levels at which biological impairment could be expected. Concentrations of organic compounds in bottom material were at most less than 25 percent of PEL’s, and usually much lower. Arsenic, cadmium, copper, and lead concentrations in bottom material were generally slightly above or lower than ISQG concentrations in both surveys, although arsenic was as high as 53 percent of PEL’s at one site in the 1999-2000 survey. All other trace elements in bottom material were present in concentrations lower than ISQG concentrations.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Resurvey of quality of surface water and bottom material of the Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana, 1999-2000
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4038
DOI 10.3133/wri034038
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description iv, 28 p.
Country United States
State Louisiana
Other Geospatial Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
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