Water-quality study of Tulpehocken Creek, Berks County, Pennsylvania, prior to impoundment of Blue Marsh Lake

Water-Resources Investigations Report 77-55

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District



Blue Marsh Lake is planned as a multipurpose impoundment to be constructed on Tulpehocken Creek near Bernville, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Prior to construction, samples of water, bed material, and soil were collected throughout the impoundment site to determine concentrations of nutrients, insecticides, trace metals, suspended sediment, and bacteria.

Analyses of water suggest the Tulpehocken Creek basin to be a highly fertile environment. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations near the proposed dam site had median values of 4.5 and 0.13 mg/L, respectively.

Suspended sediment discharges average between 100 and 200 tons (90.7 to 181.4 metric tons) per day during normal flows but may exceed 10,000 tons (9,070 metric tons) per day during storm runoff. Highest yields were measured during winter and early spring. Concentrations range from 3 mg/L to more than 500 mg/L.

Bed material samples contain trace quantities of aldrin, DDT, DDD, DDE, dieldrin, and chlordane. Polychlorinated biphyenyls (PCB's) ranged from 10 to 100 μg/kg.

Soils at the impoundment site are of average fertility. However, the silt loam texture is ideal for attachment and growth of aquatic plants.

Bacteria populations indicative of recent fecal contamination are prevalent in the major inflows to the proposed lake. Fecal Coliform exceeded the standards recommended by the Federal Water Pollution Administration Committee on Water Quality Criteria for public water supply in 29 percent of the monthly samples, and exceeded the recommended public bathing waters standard in 83 percent of the samples collected from June to September.

Arsenic from an industrial waste was found in the water, suspended sediment, and bed material of Tulpehocken Creek in concentrations of 0 to 30 μg/l, 2 to 879 μg/l, and 1 to 79 μg/g, respectively. It represents a potential environmental hazard; however, the measured concentrations are less than that known to be harmful to man, fish, or wildlife, according to published water quality criteria.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Water-quality study of Tulpehocken Creek, Berks County, Pennsylvania, prior to impoundment of Blue Marsh Lake
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center, Water Resources Division
v, 59 p.
United States
Berks County
Other Geospatial:
Blue Marsh Lake;Tulpehocken Creek