WRDS Library [Home]
Digital Library Publications Videos Card Catalog

WWRC 86-02
Evaluation of Ambient Toxicity Tests For Detecting Groundwater Pollution Entering Streams and Rivers: Year 1 Progress Report


Groundwater pollution is an emerging environmental concern in the Rocky Mountain region. In the current two-year study, we are evaluating the utility of two sublethal toxicity tests for detecting migration of contaminated ground water into streams and rivers.

During Year 1, we tested groundwater or surface-water samples from five locations at each of two study sites: 1) the Laramie River as it flowed past a former railroad tie treating plant south of Laramie, Wyoming, from June 1985 to October 1985; and 2) Crow Creek as it flowed past an oil refinery in Cheyenne, Wyoming, from June 1985 to April 1986. Each water sample was tested for its effects on survival and reproduction of Ceriodaphnia dubia (an aquatic invertebrate) and survival and growth of fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) larvae. Chemical analyses of water samples included routine water chemistry parameters, major inorganic ions, 11 trace elements, dissolved organic carbon, reverse-phase HPLC gradients, and GC-MS analyses of organics.

At the Laramie River, toxic ground water underlaid sediments adjacent to the tie treating plant. However, migration of ground water into the Laramie River did not adversely affect fathead minnows and Ceriodaphnia. Some water samples from Crow Creek were also toxic, due to industrial effluents and either contaminated ground water or storm sewer runoff following a flood.

Results of this study indicate that (1) ambient toxicity tests can be used in alkaline surface waters of the western U.S.; (2) they are sensitive enough to detect migration of contaminated ground water into surface waters; (3) they may be more sensitive in some cases than routine, inexpensive chemical analyses for detecting the presence of contaminants; and (4) toxicity of contaminated ground water and an industrial discharge varied considerably during Year 1. In the summer of Year 2 we will collect surface-water and groundwater samples adjacent to the oil refinery on Crow Creek, in order to more accurately identify potential sources of groundwater toxicity found in Year 1 and correlate instream toxicity with stream flow rate.

Water Resources Publications List
Water Resources Data System Library | Water Resources Data System Homepage