Contamination of surface water, groundwater, soil, sediment, and the atmosphere by toxic substances is among the most significant issues facing the Nation. The USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program adapts research priorities to address the most important contamination issues facing the Nation and to identify new threats to environmental health.
For additional information about the USGS Toxics Program, click here: https://toxics.usgs.gov/
As a result of prolonged and intense periods of rainfall in late May and early June, 2008, along with heavier than normal snowpack the previous winter, record flooding occurred in Iowa in the Iowa River and Cedar River Basins.
Earthworms: Diagnostic indicators of wastewater derived anthropogenic organic contaminants in terrestrial environments:
In R. Holden (ed.) Contaminants of Emerging Concern: Ecotoxicological and Human Health Considerations. Kinney, C.A., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., Zaugg, S.D., Burkhardt, M.R., Bossio, J.P., Werner, S.L. 2010.American Chemical Society Book Series Vol. 1048. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. Chapter 14, p. 297-317.
USGS Newsroom: If the Water Looks and Smells Bad, It May Be Toxic
Related Articles: Cyanotoxin Mixtures and Taste-and-Odor Compounds in Cyanobacterial Blooms from the Midwestern United States (Environmental Science & Technology Journal) and Algal Blooms Consistently Produce Complex Mixtures of Cyanotoxins and Co-Occur with Taste-and-Odor Causing Compounds in 23 Midwestern Lakes
Because of the severity of the May and June 2008 flooding, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, has summarized the meteorological and hydrological conditions leading to the flooding, compiled flood-peak stages and discharges, and estimated revised flood probabilities for 62 selected streamgages.
Major flooding occurred June 8-9, 2008, in the Upper Iowa River Basin in northeast Iowa following severe thunderstorm activity over the region. About 7 inches of rain were recorded in a 48-hour period at Decorah, IA; more than 7 inches of rain fell at Dorchester, Iowa, about 17 miles northeast of Decorah. The maximum peak discharge measured in the Upper Iowa River was 34,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS streamgage at Decorah. This is the largest discharge recorded in the Upper Iowa River Basin since streamgaging operations began in the basin in 1914.
In a 2004-2009 study, USGS scientists found that pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities can be a significant source of pharmaceuticals to the environment. Effluents from two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) that receive discharge from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities (PMFs) had 10 to 1000 times higher concentrations of pharmaceuticals than effluents from 24 WWTPs across the nation that do not receive PMF discharge. The effluents from these two WWTPs are discharged to streams where the measured pharmaceuticals were traced downstream, and as far as 30 kilometers from one plant's outfall.
Perchlorate reconnaissance sampling in streams and groundwater in the Central and Southwestern United States
Perchlorate is soluble in water and persists in soils and water for long periods. It is biologically active at relatively low-levels in the environment, and its role as an endocrine-disrupting chemical has been well characterized in some amphibians and fish. Uptake by plants and microbial degradation has also been established. Known or suspected health effects include thyroid dysfunction and interferences with brain development. There are currently no national aquatic, drinking water, or consumptive standards for perchlorate, although eight States have set advisory standards ranging from 1-18 ppb. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a drinking water limit of 1 ppb in 2002. Subsequent review by the National Academy of Sciences resulted in a recommendation that the human health exposure be increased about 20 times the initial level proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Kalkhoff, S.J., Wanty, R.B. and Linder, G.L.
During 2008, record precipitation amounts, coupled with already saturated soils, resulted in flooding along many rivers in the United States Midwest. Separate flooding events occurred in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and September of 2008. The June floods were by far the most severe and widespread with substantial (and in places record) flooding and damage occurring in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Indiana had the most recurrent flooding during 2008, with peak-of-record streamflows occurring during January, February, March, June, and September. During 2008, peak-of-record streamflows were recorded at more than 147 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgages. The annual exceedance probability of the peak streamflows at 25 streamgages was less than 0.2 percent and between 0.2 and 1 percent at 68 streamgages. Trends in flood magnitudes were computed for USGS Midwest streamgages that had no regulation. No Midwest-wide systematic trends upward or downward were evident, although clusters of consistent trends (both upward and downward) were detected in parts of the Midwest.
Holmes, R.R., Jr., Koenig, T.A., and Karstensen, K.A., 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1775, 64 p.
Now you can receive instant, customized updates about water conditions by subscribing to WaterAlert, a new service from the U.S. Geological Survey. Whether you are watching for floods, interested in recreational activities or concerned about the quality of water in your well, WaterAlert allows you to receive daily or hourly updates about current conditions in rivers, lakes and groundwater when they match conditions of concern to you.
U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Data Report WDR-US-2009
Dana Kolpin & David Eash, USGS Iowa Water Science Center hydrologists, contributed chapters to a recently published book A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008, Cornelia F. Mutel, editor.
Estimating Flood Frequency, a chapter authored by David Eash, explains the terminology used to describe the probably of flood frequency; why these terms are used; the importance of historical data and it's use for future infrastructure planning and floodplain management.
What's in Your Floodwaters? co-authored by Dana Kolpin (USGS) & Keri Hornbuckle (University of Iowa), describes and discusses the importance of the less studied water-quality aspects of flooding. During extreme flooding events, such as the 2008 Iowa flooding, a wide variety of contaminants from both agricultural and urban sources are transported via both water and sediment. As these results are studied, the impact of them on the natural environment and human health will be better understood.
A number of the photographs included in the book also were taken by USGS employees.
Kalkhoff, S.J., Stetson, S.J., Lund, K.D., Wanty, R.B., and Linder, G.L., 2010, 2004: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 495, 43 p. with appendix.
Selected water-quality data from the Cedar River and Cedar Rapids well fields, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1999–2005
Littin, G.R., and Schnoebelen, D.J., 2010, U.S. Geological Survey, Data Series 494, 52 p.