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UPDATE OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE PROJECT, "DEMONSTRATION OF AN APPROACH TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF EMERGING CONTAMINANTS ON AQUATIC INVERTEBRATES IN NATIONAL PARKS: A PROJECT FOR THE ST. CROIX NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAY"
Jeffery R. Meinertz, U.S Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
The St. Croix Riverway (Riverway) provides one of the few remaining biologically diverse aquatic environments in the region. Representative of the Riverway's good water quality are the 38 species of fresh water mussels that live in the river. The mussel diversity demonstrates the importance of the Riverway as a natural refuge for native mussels. Twenty-one species found within the Riverway are listed as endangered by the states of Minnesota and/or Wisconsin. Two species, the Higgins' eye pearly mussel (Lampsilis higginsi) and the winged mapleleaf mussel (Quadrula fragosa), are federally listed as endangered. The Riverway has the only reproducing population of Higgins' eye mussels not impacted by zebra mussels and 1 of 2 reproducing populations of the winged mapleleaf mussel. Resource managers are concerned about the recent declines in abundance and species diversity within the Riverway.
Pharmaceuticals and personnel care products (PPCP) are a group of compounds that include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, detergent by-products, fragrances, and cosmetics. These compounds are continually introduced into the aquatic environment largely through wastewater treatment plants, failed septic systems, and leaking underground sewage conveyance systems. Many PPCP have been documented in streams throughout the U.S. (Kolpin et al. 2002). Locally, the occurrence of PPCP in selected MN water including wastewater effluent and streams receiving wastewater effluent was documented by Lee et al. (2004).
There is not a clear understanding of the prevalence of PPCP in the Riverway's water and sediments. Moreover, the effect of these compounds on invertebrate populations, including mussel communities, in the Riverway has not been assessed. Invertebrates are most likely continually exposed to low levels of PPCP through adsorption across their gill surfaces or ingestion of contaminated organic material. Currently, 15 municipal and industrial wastewater facilities discharge directly into the Riverway, while over 30 additional facilities discharge into tributary streams. Of particular concern are the Taylors Falls, MN and St. Croix Falls, WI wastewater treatment facilities located upstream from an established mussel bed. A multi-tiered approach will be used to conduct this multidisciplinary study to determine the presence of PPCP in the Riverway and determine their effects on representative invertebrates. The objectives of the project are included in the following list:
Kolpin, D.W., E.T. Furlong, M.T. Meyer, E.M. Thurman, S.D. Zaugg, L.B. Barber, and H.T. Buxton. 2002. Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: A national reconnaissance, Environmental Science and Technology, 36:1202-1211.
Lee, K.E., Barber, L.B., Furlong, E.T., Cahill, J.D., Kolpin, D.W., Meyer, M.T., and Zaugg, S.D., 2004, Presence and distribution of organic wastewater compounds in wastewater, surface, ground, and drinking waters, Minnesota, 2000-02: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2004-5138, 47 p.