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Lake Crescent

Project Summaries

  
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9722-DC4 - The Nearshore Effects of Residential Wastewater-Influenced Groundwater on Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park - Completed FY2011

Background - Lack of clear evidence demonstrating the role of septic-system effluent on nuisance algal bloom formation severely limits the ability of OLYM managers to effectively engage private landowners and to implement management solutions to restore and protect the lake. Lake Crescent is currently experiencing detrimental effects of nuisance algal blooms (e.g. sensitive fish, degraded aesthetics for park visitors), and these effects are expected to increase in the absence of effective management actions and public outreach. In particular, beardslee trout, a charismatic species endemic to Lake Crescent is at specific risk due to impacts on its limited spawning habitat.

Objectives - The goal of the proposed work is the collection of baseline data that will clearly demonstrate the linkage and temporal lag between wastewater discharge from nearshore developments and the growth of benthic algae.

Relevance and Benefits - This project is consistent with both the USGS Strategic Plan and the goals set forth in the USGS-National Park Service Water-Quality Partnership. Specifically, the goal of conducting and guiding interdisciplinary and collaborative research will be addressed.

Approach - The study approach will focus on the chemistry of human generated wastewater that is transported via groundwater from domestic wastewater drainfields to discharge points in the shallow margins of the lake-shore. Groundwater nutrient concentrations will be compared between developed and undeveloped sites. Isotopic signatures of periphyton at these sites will be examined to determine the likely origin of nutrient inputs. Nutrients derived from higher trophic levels are increasingly enriched with N15, relative to N14 concentrations (Post 2002). Cabana and Rasmussen (1996) demonstrated that N15 ratio of primary producers is larger in lake systems influenced by anthropogenic sewage inputs. McCelland et al. (1997) observed greater depletion in N15 ratios in estuarine food web with increased contributions of anthropogenic waste-waters. Groundwater origins will also be inferred by examining the concentrations of the anthropogenic tracer chemicals caffeine and acetaminophen. These chemicals are characteristic of personal care products that persist into domestic wastewater discharge (Glassmeyer et al. 2005, Hinkle et al. 2005).

9722-CBX - USGS Technical Assistance for Water Quality-Microbiology, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park - Completed FY2006

Background - This project is a means to provide technical assistance to Olympic National Park (ONP) personnel in an effort to plan a study to characterize the microbial quality of Lake Crescent and potential sources of microorganisms to the lake and its outlet stream. The USGS would provide technical assistance during calendar year 2006 for identification of data needs and study design including data-collection strategies, sampling techniques, choice of target organisms, analytical methods, and laboratories with appropriate capability. To address specific questions and needs identified by ONP personnel, Washington Science Center staff will collaborate with USGS hydrologists (microbiologists), who have expertise in analytical methods for indicator bacteria, coliphage, enteric viruses, and protozoa, as well as in the capabilities of different microbial-source tracking tools, and with university-affiliated research microbiologists.

USGS personnel with appropriate technical expertise will participate in the

Problem - Increased recreational use and lakeside home occupancy by the public at Lake Crescent has resulted in a perceived increase in bacterial sources from local septic tanks. Standard approaches may not be suitable in these low-nutrient environments where bacterial densities may be low and ephemeral. Additionally, bacterial source tracking is a relatively new field and technical issues will need to be evaluated and the cost-effectiveness weighted before application of such a technology.

Objectives - This project is to provide technical assistance to Olympic National Park in addresses perceived bacterial source issues. This project attempts to the concern of bacterial inputs through design of a study and project proposal that utilize new microbiological tools to address this bacterial source tracking.

Relevance and Benefits - This project is consistent with both the USGS Strategic Plan and the goals set forth in the USGS-National Park Service Water-Quality Partnership. Specifically, the goal of conducting and guiding interdisciplinary and collaborative research will be addressed.

Approach - The approach will be to work collaboratively with ONP staff regarding the locations and issues perceived to be of concern. This will be followed by a methods and literature evaluation of appropriate technologies, laboratories, and costs of addressing those needs. Finally, a project proposal, study design, and budget will be developed that addresses those needs.

9722-CBW - Lake Crescent Nutrient Budget - Completed FY2008

Problem - Lake Crescent is one of the most prominent water bodies in Olympic National Park (OLYM) and is a unique natural resource owing to its pristine water quality and host of endemic organisms. As an ultra-oligotrophic (very nutrient poor) system, the lake is extremely susceptible to nutrient perturbations. Nutrient pulses have the potential to negatively affect water quality and alter food web dynamics. Such alterations can be manifested in nuisance algal blooms and shifts in species interactions and abundances. Of particular concern is the fragile fish community that contains three endemic species with unique life-histories specially adapted to the pristine conditions of Lake Crescent. In early 2002, the USGS-BRD convened a peer-review Lake Crescent Scientific Review Panel to assess the status of the Lake Crescent ecosystem and advise on research and management needs. Due to an almost complete lack of information on lake nutrient dynamics and its importance to lake health, the review panel strongly recommended that a nutrient budget be constructed for Lake Crescent. Currently, nuisance benthic algal growth is becoming an increasing problem in the developed areas of the lake that include Beardslee trout spawning grounds. These nuisance blooms suggest that nutrient enrichment may be occurring in the lake. Increased recreational use and lakeside home occupancy by the public at Lake Crescent have resulted in a perceived increase in bacterial sources from local septic tanks.

Objectives The primary objective of this project is to construct a nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorous) budget for Lake Crescent. Temporal (monthly) and spatial concentrations of multiple nitrogen, phosphorus and major ions species will be determined at multiple stations around the lake. The sampling will address all major compartments to the lake watershed; ie. inlet streams, two sewage treatment facilities, two sampling stations in the lake, the lake outlet (Lyre river). Bulk aerial wet/dry deposition will be estimated from existing, local National Nutrient Monitoring Network sites. Estimates of stream discharge and monthly nutrient sampling will be made at all major inlet streams.

Relevance and Benefits - This study is consistent with the national USGS mission and goals and with water-resource issues identified in the USGS Strategic Plan and Washington Water Science Center (WAWSC) Science Plan. Specifically, the topics of suitability of aquatic habitat for biota and surface-water and ground-water interactions as related to water-resource management are focuses of this project. Additionally, this project was developed in conjunction with the Olympic National Park and addresses information needs identified by the National Park Service through the USGS-NPS Water Quality Partnership program.

Approach - The nutrient budget will begin with a water budget for the lake and involve establishing stage-discharge relationships for a number of inlet streams as well as synthetic hydrograph estimation of other subbasins. Temporal (monthly) and spatial concentrations of multiple nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon species, and major ions will be determined at multiple stations around the lake following established and reviewed methods. The sampling design will address all major inputs to the lake; i.e., eight inlet streams, two sewage treatment facilities, two sampling stations in the lake, the lake outlet (Lyre river), and a bulk wet/dry deposition sampling site for aerial inputs. These 14 sites will be sampled for a 14-16 month period, with sampling beginning in FY06 and extending into FY07. An estimate of sedimentation rates within the lake will be made from collection of core samples collected from bottom sediments. Ground-water export potential will be evaluated in areas of expected flow paths using existing well water-level information and evaluating water-chemistry signatures. Bank storage and the potential for sewage-tank well fields will be evaluated by sampling shallow, near-lake ground water in developed areas.

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