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Aquatic communities and associated water chemistry in the St. Vrain River near the City of Longmont wastewater-treatment plant

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PROJECTS

Aquatic communities and associated water chemistry in the St. Vrain River near the City of Longmont wastewater-treatment plant

Study Area: St. Vrain River near Longmont, Colorado, in the South Platte River Basin
Period of Project: January 2005 through December 2006
Project Number: BU100
Project Chief: Lori Sprague
Cooperator: City of Longmont

BACKGROUND:

The St. Vrain River watershed in northeastern Colorado has experienced rapid urban growth over the last two decades. Population growth has led to increased volumes being treated at wastewater-treatment plants (WWTPs) in the basin. In the last two decades, in-stream restoration efforts and new treatment technologies have been implemented by the City of Longmont, with the goal of improving water quality and the health of aquatic organisms downstream from the WWTP effluent. Historical data on fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the St. Vrain River were collected at varying locations using varying methods, which may limit the ability to assess community changes over time.

In addition, chemicals which are not routinely monitored may be present in surface water downstream from urban areas and WWTPs, including organic “wastewater” chemicals - such as detergents, disinfectants, fragrances, fire retardants, nonprescription drugs, and pesticides – and hydrophobic contaminants such as polychlorinated dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine insecticides, and pyrethroid insecticides. These chemicals can be released to the environment through discharges from industrial facilities, animal feed lots, WWTPs, individual septic disposal systems, or through runoff from land. As there is currently little or no information on the presence of such chemicals in the Longmont WWTP effluent or in the St. Vrain River, it is difficult to begin to assess their potential impacts on aquatic communities in the stream.

OBJECTIVES:

The objectives of the proposed study are:

  1. To evaluate and summarize available information regarding fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the St. Vrain River below Lyons, Co.
  2. To supplement the current monitoring program in place at the Longmont WWTP with an assessment of additional chemical factors that may be affecting biological communities.

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