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Columbia Basin Irrigation

Project Summaries

  
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9722-AE7 - Collection of Pesticide Data in Columbia Basin Irrigation Project Return Flows - Completed FY2005

Problem - The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have approached the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) about sampling four surface-water sites in the Columbia Irrigation Project (CBIP) to meet the action in the NMFS 2000 Biological Opinion of whether or not selected pesticides are present in these return flows at levels that may harm or adversely affect salmon and steelhead species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Reclamation would like the USGS to conduct this work in conjunction with ongoing USGS work in the Columbia Basin under their National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The NAWQA program has developed procedures for sampling and analyzing pesticides in surface water that assure high-quality, representative data for many commonly used pesticides. Using NAWQA procedures would also assure compatibility with other NAWQA data, from both the Columbia Basin and other NAWQA study units nationally.

Objectives - The objective of this work is to determine concentrations of selected pesticides at four CBIP return-flow sites during the 2002, 2003, and 2004 irrigation seasons.

Relevance and Benefits - An important part of the USGS mission is to provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation and to enhance and protect our quality of life. The USGS Washington Water Science Center Science Plan specifically recognizes a need in the state to better understand how the quality of water within the state might impact salmon and other biota. Information gained in this study will improve the understanding of the distribution, variation, and trend of water quality within the Columbia Basin of the Central Columbia Basin/Yakima River NAWQA study area. Findings regarding water-quality conditions within the irrigated agricultural study area will help in the understanding of similar water-quality conditions in other agricultural areas elsewhere in the Nation. The Central Columbia Basin is a nationally valuable agricultural area, and work within this area is of significant interest to the Federal government. Identifying what compounds are found within these systems and how they have changed over time is of concern to local residents, Indian tribes, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Approach - The USGS will collect samples from four surface-water sites: Crab Creek near Beverly, Sand Hollow Creek upstream of the confluence with the Columbia River, Lind Coulee at State Highway 17, and Red Rock Coulee upstream of the confluence with Lower Crab Creek at twelve specific time periods throughout the irrigation season.

All samples will be analyzed at the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver, Colorado, for concentrations of common ions and selected pesticides.

Assessed quality-assurance analytes will focus on the major ions on the USGS Schedule 2701, which includes dissolved calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, alkalinity, chloride, sulfate, fluoride, iron, and manganese; the pesticides on the USGS Schedules 2001 and 2060, which include the insecticides chlorpyrifos, azinphos-methyl, carbaryl, ethoprop, diazinon, malathion, and carbofuran, and the herbicides, atrazine, simazine, DCPA, EPTC, terbacil, triallate, metribuzin, diuron, prometon, bentazon, pendimethalin, cyanazine and metalochlor.

WA373 - [Department of the Interior] Irrigation Drainage Reconnaissance Study of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project - Completed FY1995

Problem -The study area is the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (CBIP), a multi-purpose development of about 4,000 square miles on the Columbia Plateau of east-central Washington. Irrigation is the most significant consumptive use of water in the project area, and agriculture is the most significant use or cover of the land, excluding the scablands. In addition to irrigation, there are three uses of the water and associated facilities of the CBIP. They are flood-control, power generation, and support and management of fish and wildlife and other water-recreation activities. The water-quality studies that have been conducted in the project area not only are few in number, but also are limited in extent. None of the studies conducted to date has traced changes in trace elements, pesticides, and other water-quality parameters as the irrigation water moves from the source through the irrigation system. No study has traced parameters over time to determine the effects of pesticide applications or effects of concentration and dilution by irrigation water. No study has determined how water-quality changes after it has been reused for irrigation several times. The area is dynamic and remains one of significant contamination potential because of chemical applications to crops, the long-term increasing salting effects caused by concentrating dissolved salts, rising ground-water levels, and future expansion into irrigable but currently unirrigated and partially irrigated lands.

Objectives -The objective of this study is to conduct a reconnaissance-type investigation of the water, sediment, biota, and other water-related aspects of the CBIP area. The changes in quality of water and water-associated biota that occur in the irrigation water will be studied as it moves from Billy Clapp Lake through the irrigation system and returns to the Columbia River on the west and south ends of the study area. In some cases, sampling sites have been selected to represent the worst-case scenario. Samples will be taken to cover pre-, post-, and mid-irrigation periods.

Approach -Twenty-one stream and lake sites have been selected where water, bottom sediment, and biota samples will be collected. These sites were selected to represent unused water, reused water, stored water, intransit waste water, and final-discharge waste water. Field measurements that will be made at each of these sites and each of the three sampling times will include specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, and alkalinity.

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