Link to USGS home page.
Maine Water Science Center

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5111

Nutrients, Organic Compounds, and Mercury in the
Meduxnekeag River Watershed, Maine, 2003

By Charles W. Schalk and Lan Tornes

In cooperation with the
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians

This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

View the full report in PDF 2.5 MB

ABSTRACT

In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, sampled streambed sediments and surface water of the Meduxnekeag River watershed in northeastern Maine under various hydrologic conditions for nutrients, hydrophobic organic compounds, and mercury. Nutrients were sampled to address concerns related to summer algal blooms, and organic compounds and mercury were sampled to address concerns about regional depositional patterns and overall watershed quality. In most surface-water samples, phosphorus was not detected or was detected at concentrations below the minimum reporting limit. Nitrate and organic nitrogen were detected in every surface-water sample for which they were analyzed; the highest concentration of total nitrogen was 0.75 milligrams per liter during low flow. Instantaneous nitrogen loads and yields were calculated at four stations for two sampling events. These data indicate that the part of the watershed that includes Houlton, its wastewater-treatment plant, and four small urban brooks may have contributed high concentrations of nitrate to Meduxnekeag River during the high flows on April 23-24 and high concentrations of both organic and nitrate nitrogen on June 2-3. Mercury was detected in all three bed-sediment samples for which it was analyzed; concentrations were similar to those reported from regional studies. Notable organic compounds detected in bed sediments included p,p’-DDE and p,p’-DDT (pesticides of the DDT family) and several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and phthalates were not detected in any sample, whereas p-cresol was the only phenolic compound detected. Phosphorus was detected at concentrations below 700 milligrams per kilogram in each bed-sediment sample for which it was analyzed. Data were insufficient to establish whether the lack of large algal blooms in 2003 was related to low concentrations of phosphorus.

Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Description of the Study Area

Land Use

Soils

Climate

Surface Water

Ground Water

Methods of Data Collection and Analysis

Site Selection

Sample Collection

Sample Analysis

Quality Assurance

Nutrients, Organic Compounds, and Mercury in Meduxnekeag River

Surface Water

Suspended Sediment and Nutrient Concentrations

Nutrient Loads and Yields

Bed Sediments

Comparisons with Data from Other Studies

Summary and Conclusions

Acknowledgements

References Cited

Appendix 1. Historical streamflow, temperature, and specific conductance at station 01018000, Meduxnekeag River near Houlton, Maine

Appendix 2. Analytical schedules and detection limits


This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

View the full report in PDF 2.5 MB

Access the USGS Water Resources of Maine home page at:
http://me.water.usgs.gov/.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL:
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Last modified: Thursday, December 01 2016, 06:41:55 PM
FirstGov button  Take Pride in America button