Efforts are underway to identify actions that would improve water quality in the Link River to Keno Dam reach of the Upper Klamath River in south-central Oregon. To provide further insight into water-quality improvement options, three scenarios were developed, run, and analyzed using previously calibrated CE-QUAL-W2 hydrodynamic and water-quality models. Additional scenarios are under development as part of this ongoing study. Most of these scenarios evaluate changes relative to a “current conditions” model, but in some cases a “natural conditions” model was used that simulated the reach without the effect of point and nonpoint sources and set Upper Klamath Lake at its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) targets. These scenarios were simulated using a model developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Watercourse Engineering, Inc. for the years 2006–09, referred to here as the “USGS model.” Another model of the reach was developed by Tetra Tech, Inc. for years 2000 and 2002 to support the Klamath River TMDL process; that model is referred to here as the “TMDL model.”
The three scenarios described in this report included (1) an analysis of whether this reach of the Upper Klamath River would be in compliance with dissolved oxygen standards if sources met TMDL allocations, (2) an application of more recent datasets to the TMDL model with comparison to results from the USGS model, and (3) an examination of the effect on dissolved oxygen in the Klamath River if particulate material were stopped from entering Klamath Project diversion canals. Updates and modifications to the USGS model are in progress, so in the future these scenarios will be reanalyzed with the updated model and the interim results presented here will be superseded. Significant findings from this phase of the investigation include:
- The TMDL analysis used depth-averaged dissolved oxygen concentrations from model output for comparison with dissolved oxygen standards. The Oregon dissolved oxygen standards do not specify whether the numeric criteria are based on depth-averaged dissolved oxygen concentration; this was an interpretation of the standards rule by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ). In this study, both depth-averaged and volume-averaged dissolved oxygen concentrations were calculated from model output. Results showed that modeled depth-averaged concentrations typically were lower than volume-averaged dissolved oxygen concentrations because depth-averaging gives a higher weight to small volume areas near the channel bottom that often have lower dissolved oxygen concentrations. Results from model scenarios in this study are reported using volume-averaged dissolved oxygen concentrations.
- Under all scenarios analyzed, violations of the dissolved oxygen standard occurred most often in summer. Of the three dissolved oxygen criteria that must be met, the 30-day standard was violated most frequently. Under the base case (current conditions), fewer violations occurred in the upstream part of the reach. More violations occurred in the down-stream direction, due in part to oxygen demand from the decay of algae and organic matter from Link River and other inflows.
- A condition in which Upper Klamath Lake and its Link River outflow achieved Upper Klamath Lake TMDL water-quality targets was most effective in reducing the number of violations of the dissolved oxygen standard in the Link River to Keno Dam reach of the Klamath River. The condition in which point and nonpoint sources within the Link River to Keno Dam reach met Klamath River TMDL allocations had no effect on dissolved oxygen compliance in some locations and a small effect in others under current conditions. On the other hand, meeting TMDL allocations for nonpoint and point sources was predicted to be important in meeting dissolved oxygen criteria when Upper Klamath Lake and Link River also met Upper Klamath TMDL water-quality targets.
- The location of greatest dissolved oxygen improvement from nutrient and organic matter reductions was downstream from point and nonpoint source inflows because time and distance are required for decay to occur and for oxygen demand to be exerted.
- After assessing compliance with dissolved oxygen standards at all 102 model segments in the Link River to Keno Dam reach, it was determined that the seven locations used by ODEQ appear to be a representative subset of the reach for dissolved oxygen analysis.
- The USGS and TMDL models were qualitatively compared by running both models for the 2006–09 period but preserving the essential characteristics of each, such as organic matter partitioning, bathymetric representation, and parameter rates. The analysis revealed that some constituents were not greatly affected by the differing algorithms, rates, and assumptions in the two models. Conversely, other constituents, especially organic matter, were simulated differently by the two models. Organic matter in this river system is best represented by a mixture of relatively labile particulate material and a substantial concentration of refractory dissolved material. In addition, the use of a first-order sediment oxygen demand, as in the USGS model, helps to capture the seasonal and dynamic effect of settled organic and algal material.
- Simulation of shunting (diverting) particulate material away from the intake of four Klamath Project diversion canals, so that the material stayed in the river and out of the Project area, caused higher concentrations of particulate material to occur in the river. In all cases modeled, the increase in in-river particulate material also produced decreased dissolved oxygen concentrations and an increase in the number of days when dissolved oxygen standards were violated.
- If particulate material were shunted back into the river at the Klamath Project diversion canals, less organic matter and nutrients would be taken into the Klamath Project area and the Lost River basin, resulting in return flows to the Klamath River via Lost River Diversion Channel that may have reduced nutrient concentrations. Model scenarios bracketing potential end-member nutrient concentrations showed that the composition of the return flows had little to no effect on dissolved oxygen compliance under simulated conditions.
First posted May 30, 2012
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