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Publications—Scientific Investigations Report

Surface Water-Quality and Water-Quantity Data from Selected Urban Runoff-Monitoring Sites at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado, Water Years 1988-2004

By John D. Gordon, Donald E. Schild, Joseph P. Capesius, and Cecil B. Slaughter

Available from the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286,
Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5214,
29 p., 33 figs.--ONLINE ONLY

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This document is available in pdf format:
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The citation for this report, in USGS format, is as follows:
Gordon, J.D., Schild, D.E., Capesius, J.P., and Slaughter, C.B., 2005, Surface water-quality and water-quantity data from selected urban runoff-monitoring sites at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado, water years 1988-2004: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5214, 29 p. and appendices.

Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey has monitored the quality and quantity of streamflow at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) northeast of Denver, Colorado, since the early 1990s in cooperation with the U.S. Army. This report, prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, documents existing surface-water-quality conditions on the RMA. All RMA water-quality data for the Irondale Gulch and First Creek Basins adjacent to and on the RMA were reviewed. Where applicable, water-quality data were compared to State standards established by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. At both the Havana Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station and the Uvalda Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station, all of the dissolved-oxygen concentrations met the State standard requiring at least 5.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved oxygen for the protection of aquatic life. In contrast, the dissolved-oxygen concentrations at the Peoria Interceptor below 56th Avenue gage commonly were less than 5.0 mg/L. Excluding one suspect concentration of 1.6 mg/L, the dissolved-oxygen concentrations for the First Creek Basin ranged from 4.2 to 12.6 mg/L. Excluding the one suspect value, three dissolved-oxygen concentrations failed to meet the State standard of 5.0 mg/L at the First Creek below Buckley Road site. At the Peoria Interceptor below 56th Avenue site, all pH values were within the range specified by the State standard (6.50-8.99). Results of seven sampling events at the Havana Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station indicated a pH greater than or equal to 9 (pH values of 9 or greater exceed the upper limit of the standard). No sampling events indicated a pH less than 6.50. Results from one sampling event at the Uvalda Interceptor below 56th Avenue indicated pH values outside the range specified by the State standard. The concentrations obtained for chloride, magnesium, and sodium generally were below 200 mg/L at all three Irondale Gulch monitoring stations for the entire period of record, but there were a few sampling events at each of these sites where much higher concentrations for these analytes were obtained. The median concentrations for calcium, magnesium, and sodium generally were higher at the First Creek below Buckley Road site than in the three Irondale Gulch sites, while the 90th percentile and maximum concentrations for magnesium and sodium generally were higher at the three Irondale Gulch sites than at the First Creek below Buckley Road site. The urban runoff flowing onto the RMA had low concentrations and few, if any, detections for most organic contaminants. Part of the reason for low detections of organic contaminants may be in how the samples are collected. The existing surface-water sampling program was not designed specifically to target storm runoff and therefore does not characterize water quality for all hydrologic regimes, most notably storm runoff. As a result, the existing data may not adequately represent potential contaminant transport onto the RMA. In addition, during stormwater-runoff events, the sites examined for this report frequently are subject to sharp increases in discharge, and just as quickly the discharge rapidly recedes. These types of transient flow events make water-quality sampling difficult, and none of the sites have a safe place to sample the higher flows that occur in any given year. As a result, most of the surface-water-quality samples were collected after the flow had decreased substantially from the peak flow, which may have transported much of the chemical contaminant load through the system. Thus, little is known about the water quality during the critical initial stormwater-runoff period when contaminants are most likely to be mobilized and transported through the stormwater conveyances past the locations where gaging stations are located.


Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Hydrology

Methods of Investigation

Water-Quality Analysis

Analysis of Irondale Gulch Water-Quality Data

Water-Quality Field Measurements

Dissolved Oxygen

pH

Specific Conductance

Chemical Analysis

Analysis of First Creek Water-Quality Data

Water-Quality Field Measurements

Dissolved Oxygen

pH

Specific Conductance

Chemical Analysis

Streamflow Trends in First Creek

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendixes

  1. List of analytes that have been collected as part of the surface-water program and the abbreviations used for them at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (2 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  2. Analytical results for all water-quality samples collected at the Havana Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station, Commerce City, Colorado (115 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  3. Analytical results for all water-quality samples collected at the Peoria Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station, Commerce City, Colorado (118 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  4. Analytical results for all water-quality samples collected at the Uvalda Interceptor below 56th Avenue gaging station, Commerce City, Colorado (109 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  5. List of laboratory codes and the complete names of each analytical laboratory used by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (3 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  6. List of analytical flag codes and descriptions for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal
    (1 page).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  7. Data qualifier codes and their descriptions (1 page).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )
  8. Analytical results for all water-quality samples collected at the First Creek below Buckley Road gaging station, Commerce City, Colorado (90 pages).
    (Available in Excel and pdf format
    )

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