West Point Reservoir is a multiple-purpose project on the Chattahoochee River about 112 river kilometers downstream from Atlanta on the Alabama-Georgia border. Urbanization has placed large demands on the Chattahoochee River, and water quality below Atlanta was degraded even before impoundment. Water-quality, bottom-sediment, and fish-tissue samples were collected from the reservoir to determine whether water-quality problems have occurred subsequent to impoundment.
Severe hypolimnetic oxygen deficiency occurred in the reservoir following thermal stratification in the spring of 1978 and 1979. During stratified periods, concentrations of dissolved iron and manganese in the hypolimnion at the dam pool ranged from 0 to 7,700 and 30 to 2,000 micrograms per liter, respectively.
During thermally stratified periods, phytoplankton standing crops in the upper lentic section of the reservoir ranged from 39,000 to 670,000 cells per milliliter. A maximum algal growth potential value (U.S. Geological Survey method) of 48.0 milligrams per liter was obtained at the uppermost data-collection station. The primary growth-limiting nutrients were nitrogen in the Iotic section and phosphorus in the lentic section.
The highest measured concentrations of volatile solids and total iron, manganese, phosphorus, and organic carbon in sediments occurred in the lentic section of the reservoir, where bottom sediments consist mainly of silt and clay. Polychlorinated biphenyls and chlordane concentrations in the bottom sediments were as high as 740 and 210 micrograms per kilogram, respectively. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls and chlordane in fish tissue ranged from 19 to 3,800 and 6.0 to 280 micrograms per kilogram, respectively.