Water Quality of Camp Creek, Costello Creek, and Other Selected Streams on the South Side of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Online Report Only

U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Report 02-4260

Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service

By Timothy P. Brabets and Matthew S. Whitman

A pdf is available for this report.


The Camp and Costello Creek watersheds are located on the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve. The Dunkle Mine, an abandoned coal mine, is located near the mouth of Camp Creek. Due to concern about runoff from the mine and its possible effects on the water quality and aquatic habitat of Camp Creek and its receiving stream, Costello Creek, these two streams were studied during the summer runoff months (June to September) in 1999 and 2000 as part of a cooperative study with the National Park Service. Since the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve is part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment Cook Inlet Basin study unit, an additional part of this study included analysis of existing water-quality data at 23 sites located throughout the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve to compare with the water quality of Camp and Costello Creeks and to obtain a broader understanding of the water quality in this area of the Cook Inlet Basin.

Analysis of water column, bed sediment, fish, invertebrate, and algae data indicate no effects on the water quality of Camp Creek from the Dunkle Mine. Although several organic compounds were found in the streambed of Camp Creek, all concentrations were below recommended levels for aquatic life and most of the concentrations were below the minimum reporting level of 50 µg/kg. Trace element concentrations of arsenic, chromium, and nickel in the bed sediments of Camp Creek exceeded threshold effect concentrations (TEC), but concentrations of these trace elements were also exceeded in streambed sediments of Costello Creek above Camp Creek. Since the percent organic carbon in Camp Creek is relatively high, the toxicity quotient of 0.55 is only slightly above the threshold value of 0.5. Costello Creek has a relatively low organic carbon content and has a higher toxicity quotient of 1.19.

Analysis of the water-quality data for other streams located in the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve indicate similarities to Camp Creek and Costello Creek. Most of the streams are calcium bicarbonate/calcium bicarbonate-sulfate type water with the exception of two streams that are calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate type water. Trace element concentrations of arsenic, chromium, and nickel in the bed sediments of 9 streams exceeded the TEC or the probable effect concentration (PEC). Seven streams exceeded the threshold value of the toxicity quotient. Analysis of trace element concentrations in bed sediment and basin characteristics for 16 watersheds by cluster and discriminant analysis techniques indicated that the watersheds could be separated into two groups based on their basin characteristics.





Purpose and Scope


Description of Study Area

Methods of Data Collection and Analysis

Water quality of Camp Creek, Costello Creek, and other selected streams

Physical properties

Streamflow and suspended sediment

Specific conductance


Water temperature

Dissolved Oxygen


Major ions and dissolved solids

Nutrients and organic carbon

Organic compounds

Trace elements

Cluster and discriminant analysis of trace element data in bed sediments

Physical habitat and biology of Camp Creek and Costello Creek

Physical habitat



Summary and Conclusions

References Cited


For addtional information contact:


Alaska Science Center

Chief, Office of Water Resources

US Geological Survey

4230 University Drive, Suite 201

Anchorage, AK 99508-4664

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Last modified: Wednesday, December 07 2016, 01:13:40 PM
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