Occurrence, trends, and sources in particle-associated contaminants in selected streams and lakes in Fort Worth, Texas

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4169
In cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
By: , and 



Several lakes and stream segments in Fort Worth, Texas, have fish consumption bans because of elevated levels of chlordane, dieldrin, DDE, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This study was undertaken to evaluate current loading, trends, and sources in these long-banned contaminants and other particle-associated contaminants commonly found in urban areas. Sampling included suspended sediments at 11 sites in streams and bottom-sediment cores in three lakes. Samples were analyzed for chlorinated hydrocarbons, major and trace elements, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). All four legacy pollutants responsible for fish consumption bans were detected frequently. Concentrations of chlordane, lead, and PAHs most frequently exceeded sediment-quality guidelines. Trends in DDE and PCBs since the 1960s generally are decreasing; and trends in chlordane are mixed with a decreasing trend in Lake Como, no trend in Echo Lake, and an increasing trend in Fosdic Lake. All significant trends in trace elements are decreasing, and most significant trends in PAHs are increasing. Sedimentation surveys were conducted on each of the three lakes and used in combination with sediment core data to compute sediment mass balances for the lakes, to estimate long-term-average loads and yields of sediment, and to estimate recent loads and yields of selected contaminants.

Concentrations of most trace elements in suspended sediments were similar to those at the tops of cores, but concentrations of many hydrophobic organic contaminants were two to three times larger. As a result, for these fluvial systems, sediment cores probably provide a historical record of trace element contamination but could underestimate historical concentrations of organic contaminants. However, down-core profiles suggest that relative concentration histories are preserved in these sediment cores for many organic contaminants (such as chlordane and total DDT) but not for all (such as dieldrin).

Percent urban land use correlates strongly with selected contaminant concentrations in sediments. Organochlorine pesticides had significant correlations to residential land use, whereas PCBs, cadmium, lead, zinc, and PAHs more often correlate significantly with commercial and industrial land uses, which suggests different urban sources for different contaminants. The amount of enrichment in these contaminants associated with urban land use predicted from regression equations, expressed as the ratio of concentrations predicted for 100 percent urban to 30 percent urban, ranges from 3.6 to 6.9 for PCBs and heavy metals to about 15 for chlordane, total DDT, and PAHs. These data indicate that urbanization is having a substantial negative effect on sediment and water quality and that legacy pollutants are being actively transported to streams and lakes 13 to 30 years after their use was restricted or banned. They further suggest that fish in the lakes and these water bodies will continue to be exposed to legacy pollutants in sediment for many years to come.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Occurrence, trends, and sources in particle-associated contaminants in selected streams and lakes in Fort Worth, Texas
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4169
DOI 10.3133/wri034169
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description v, 154 p.
Country United States
State Texas
City Fort Worth
Other Geospatial Clear Fork Trinity River, Echo Lake, Fosdic Lake, Lake Como, West Fork Trinity River
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