By Briant A. Kimball, Kevin K. Johnson, Robert L. Runkel, and Judy I. Steiger
The Silver Maple Claims area along Silver Creek, near Park City, Utah, is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. To quantify possible sources of elevated zinc concentrations in Silver Creek that exceed water-quality standards, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a mass-loading study in May 2002 along a 1,400-meter reach of Silver Creek that included the Silver Maple Claims area. Additional samples were collected upstream and downstream from the injection reach to investigate other possible sources of zinc and other metals to the stream. Many metals were investigated in the study, but zinc is of particular concern for water-quality standards. The total loading of zinc along the study reach from Park City to Wanship, Utah, was about 49 kilograms per day. The Silver Maple Claims area contributed about 38 percent of this load. The Silver Creek tailings discharge pipe, which empties just inside the Silver Maple Claims area, contributed more than half the load of the Silver Maple Claims area. Substantial zinc loads also were added to Silver Creek downstream from the Silver Maple Claims area. Ground-water discharge upstream from the waste-water treatment plant contributed 20 percent of the total zinc load, and another 17 percent was contributed near the waste-water treatment plant. By identifying the specific areas where zinc and other metal loads are contributed to Silver Creek, it is possible to assess the needs of a remediation plan. For example, removing the tailings from the Silver Maple Claims area could contribute to lowering the zinc concentration in Silver Creek, but without also addressing the loading from the Silver Creek tailings discharge pipe and the ground-water discharge farther downstream, the zinc concentration could not be lowered enough to meet water-quality standards. Additional existing sources of zinc loading downstream from the Silver Maple Claims area could complicate the process of lowering zinc concentration to meet water-quality standards.
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Sample Collection and Analysis
Quantification of Metal Loading
Chemical Character of Synoptic Samples
Principal Locations of Mass Loading
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