Central Columbia Plateau - Yakima River Basin NAWQA Study - Publications

Aquatic Biota Within the Central Columbia Plateau NAWQA Study Unit: A Review of Existing Information

By Elizabeth Block, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Moses Lake, Washington


The U. S. Geological Survey, National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program is a nationwide, long-term program to assess the status, trends, and processes affecting the quality of the Nation's surface water and groundwater, and to assess the primary natural and human factors affecting water quality. Biological indices of water quality include assessment of bioaccumulatory contaminants through the analysis of organism tissues, and analysis of aquatic communities. The Central Columbia Plateau (CCP) NAWQA study was initiated in 1991 and is currently engaged in an intensive information collection and planning phase. The purpose of this report is to summarize existing information concerning aquatic species distribution and contaminant levels in aquatic organisms in the CCP study unit. This information can be used to select sites, species, and chemicals for examination during the course of the study.

A few contaminant studies conducted in the CCP study unit have included fish tissue analysis. Results of these studies did not indicate major contamination; however, the studies were not extensive enough to be conclusive. Results did indicate several organic contaminants and trace elements which were elevated in fish tissue relative to nationwide monitoring and should be considered for further study: alpha-BHC (benzene hexachloride), lead, copper, and possibly cadmium in the Palouse River near Hooper; and arsenic, copper, and selenium in the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. Examination of a multi-year, multi-site data set of organochlorines in fish from the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project showed that DDT metabolites were ubiquitous but did not occur at elevated levels, and that dieldrin also occurred commonly. Accumulation of currently used pesticides in tissues of aquatic organisms has not been examined.

Fairly extensive information on fish species occurrence by stream or lake was gathered. Life histories of common fish species were reviewed, and suggested were included concerning their appropriateness for use as chemical monitor species. Information gathered on aquatic invertebrates was less extensive, but a taxa list was developed. Also included in this report is the limited information available on reptiles, amphibians, aquatic plants, and plankton.

For a paper copy of the full report, send email to:

Central Columbia Plateau - Yakima River Basin NAWQA Study
NAWQA Program Bibliography
Water Resources of Washington State
U.S. Geological Survey This page is http:// /pubs/wrir/block_abstract.htm
Last modified: Thursday April 4, 2002, 3:49 p.m.