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In cooperation with the City of Houston

Water-Quality Trends in Suburban Houston, Texas,
1954-97, as Indicated by Sediment Cores
From Lake Houston

By P.C. Van Metre and D.A. Sneck-Fahrer

U.S. Geological Survey
Fact Sheet 040–02

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As cities grow and urban sprawl replaces rangeland, agricultural fields, and forests, water quality declines

Lake Houston is a shallow reservoir on the San Jacinto River

Sediment Cores were collected from three locations in Lake Houston

Age-dating of sediment cores was done using the reservoir boundary

Streambed sediment samples were collected from seven sites on the six largest tributaries


PCBs were widely used in urban and industrial applications in the United States

PAHs are produced by combustion of hydrocarbons

DDT use in the United States peaked in about 1960

Trace element concentrations in core samples from Lake Houston

Contaminants in Streambed Sediment

Implications for Water Quality



1.  Map of Lake Houston watershed showing land use (about 1992) and locations of lake sediment cores and streambed sediment samples
2–6.  Graphs showing:
2.  Cesium-137 profile in HOE core
3.  PAH trends in Lake Houston cores
4.  DDE trends in Lake Houston cores
5.  Trends in six trace elements in Lake Houston cores
6.  Total combustion PAH in streambed sediments from seven sites on the six largest tributaries to Lake Houston



Comparison of maximum constituent concentrations in cores with sediment-quality guidelines

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