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Fact Sheet 2010–3056

USGS Activities at Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia River

By Cynthia Barton and Gary L. Turney

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Lake Roosevelt (Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake) is the impoundment of the upper Columbia River behind Grand Coulee Dam, and is the largest reservoir within the Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project (CBP). The reservoir is located in northeastern Washington, and stretches 151 miles from Grand Coulee Dam north to the Canadian border. The 15–20 miles of the Columbia River downstream of the border are riverine and are under small backwater effects from the dam. Grand Coulee Dam is located on the mainstem of the Columbia River about 90 miles northwest of Spokane. Since the late 1980s, trace-element contamination has been known to be widely present in Lake Roosevelt. Trace elements of concern include arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc. Contaminated sediment carried by the Columbia River is the primary source of the widespread occurrence of trace-element enrichment present in Lake Roosevelt. In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated a preliminary assessment of environmental contamination of the Lake Roosevelt area (also referred to as Upper Columbia River, UCR site, or UCR/LR site) and has subsequently begun remedial investigations of the UCR site.

First posted July 23, 2010

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Washington Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
934 Broadway, Suite 300
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: (253) 552-1600

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Suggested citation:

Barton, Cynthia, and Turney, G.L., 2010, USGS Activities at Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia River: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3056, 6 p.


Early USGS Work on the Resources of the Upper Columbia River Basin

USGS Work Related to Contamination in Lake Roosevelt

Air-Quality Assessments

Ecological Health Assessments

References Cited

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