WATER QUALITY DATA

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Iron Concentrations Vary with Streamflow and Location

(From U.S.G.S. Open File Report 81-901, January, 1982)
Although iron concentrations vary with streamflow and location, the concentrations of total recoverable iron in most streams were less that the mandatory limits specified for effluents from mining areas.

Iron in excessive concentrations can limit severely the use of water for public supply, domestic, and recreational purposes. Consequently, most water supply criteria contain recommended maximum limits for dissolved iron; the recommended maximum concentration of iron in drinking water is 300 micrograms per liter (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1976). The Act specifies 7,000 micrograms per liter as the maximum allowable concentration of total iron in effluents from mining operations. Total recoverable (dissolved plus suspended) and dissolved concentrations of iron in water have been determined at 31 sites in Area 19 (fig. 5.6-1).

Total recoverable iron concentrations in water in streams in the area ranged from 0 to 44,000 micrograms per liter (table 5.6-1). The maximum concentration occurring in Coal Creek (site 19), which drains a basin mostly in the Cumberland Plateau, is equivalent to the transport of about 13 tons of iron per day (assuming the instantaneous concentrations and streamflow were sustained throughout the day). At four other sites in the Ridge and Valley (three with basins mostly in the Cumberland Plateau), total recoverable iron concentrations exceeded 7,000 micrograms per liter at least once. Total recoverable iron at sites on streams in the Cumberland Plateau ranged from 0 to 10,000 micrograms per liter with determined maximums exceeding 1,000 micrograms per liter at about two-thirds of the sites. Concentrations exceeded the maximum for mine effluents at two sites.

Dissolved iron is only a small part of the total recoverable iron transported by streams in Area 19; concentrations generally were less than 200 tig/L. Although dissolved iron concentrations ranged from 0 to 1,300 ug/L, only eight of approximately 500 determinations exceeded 300 micrograms per liter. Dissolved iron did not vary significantly with large changes in streamflow. Although pH is an important factor affecting metal solubilities, no statistically significant relation between pH and dissolved iron has been established areawide.

The maximum total recoverable iron in water from most streams occurred during high flows because large amounts of suspended iron were transported with suspended sediment. The increase in iron load correlates significantly with increasing suspended-sediment concentrations (section 5.9). Because of this relation and because most of the suspended sediment in a particular stream is transported during storms, neither suspended-sediment nor iron yields can be defined with data obtained by random sampling. These yields from a basin can be determined only by more comprehensive sampling.

[Home] [Master Plan] [Map] [Photo Gallery]
[Bank Stabilization Projects]
[Deadwood Removal Days] [Discovery Day 2000] [Scrape, Paint & Clean Day 2000
[Historic Fraterville Mine Disaster Field Trip 2001] [Fraterville Mine Disaster 100th Anniversary]
[Coal Creek War and Mining Disasters] [Mine Reclamation Lessons]
[CMD] [Economic Benefits] [Motor Discovery Trail] [Historic Cemeteries]
[Partners] [Schools in Watershed] [Mark the Trail Day]
[Awards] [Coal Creek Health Days]
[Briceville School History Field Trips] [Ghost Stories]
[Trout Stuff] [Join Us] [Eastern Coal Region Roundtable]
[Articles in the News] [Dream Contest]

Copyrightę Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Inc. 2000 through 2016
CELEBRATING OUR 16th YEAR!!