Statistical analyses indicated that urban stormwater could degrade the quality of streamflow because of oil and grease, pesticides, dissolved trace metals, and ammonia in stormwater. Ammonia, lead, cadmium, and zinc are released by urban activities and accumulate in bed material. Ammonia could be from fertilizers, fecal matter, and other sources. Lead is probably from vehicles that use leaded gasoline. Cadmium and zinc could be from particulate metal in oil, brake pads, and other sources. Samples of the initial runoff from urban drainage basins appeared to be more toxic than flow-weighted composite samples, and stormwater was more harmful to fathead minnows than to Ceriodaphnia dubia. Streamflow samples from the Salt River were not toxic to either species. The sensitivity of fathead minnows to urban stormwater from most urban drainage basins indicated that the toxicants were detrimental to fish and could be present in stormwater throughout Phoenix. Results of toxicity identification evaluations indicated the toxicity was mostly due to organic constituents. Mortality, however, did not correlate with organophosphate pesticide concentrations. Surfactants and (or) other constituents leached from asphalt could be toxic. The most toxic bed-material samples were collected from an undeveloped drainage basin. Within urban-drainage basins, bed-material samples collected where stormwater accumulates appeared to be more toxic than samples collected from areas unaffected by stormwater. Mortality rates correlated with recoverable concentrations of zinc, copper, and cadmium; however these rates correlated poorly with pesticide concentrations. The bioavailability of trace metals appeared to be controlled by the adsorption properties of bed material.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Selected chemical characteristics and acute toxicity of urban stormwater, streamflow, and bed material, Maricopa County, Arizona
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],