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Keywords:

  • organochlorine pesticides;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • erosion;
  • sedimentation;
  • San Joaquin River;
  • surface water hydrology;
  • drainage;
  • water quality)

ABSTRACT: Suspended sediment samples were collected in west-side tributaries and the main stem of the San Joaquin River, California, in June 1994 during the irrigation season and in January 1995 during a winter storm. These samples were analyzed for 15 organochiorine pesticides to determine their occurrence and their concentrations on suspended sediment and to compare transport during the irrigation season (April to September) to transport during winter storm runoff (October to March). Ten organochiorine pesticides were detected during the winter storm runoff; seven during the irrigation season. The most frequently detected organochlorine pesticides during both sampling periods were p,p'-DDE, p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDD, dieldrin, toxaphene, and chiordane. Dissolved samples were analyzed for three organochiorine pesticides during the irrigation season and for 15 during the winter storm. Most calculated total concentrations of p,p-DDT, chlordane, dieldrin, and toxaphene exceeded chronic criteria for the protection of freshwater aquatic life. At eight sites in common between sampling periods, suspended sediment concentrations and streamfiow were greater during the winter storm runoff - median concentration of 3,590 mg/L versus 489 mg(L and median streamfiow of 162 ft3/s versus 11 ft3/s. Median concentrations of total DDT (sum of p,p'-DDD, p,p-DDE, and p,p'-DDT), chlordane, dieldrin, and toxaphene on suspended sediment were slightly greater during the irrigation season, but instantaneous loads of organochlorine pesticides at the time of sampling were substantially greater during the winter storm. Estimated loads for the entire irrigation season exceeded estimated loads for the January 1995 storm by about 2 to 4 times for suspended transport and about 3 to 11 times for total transport. However, because the mean annual winter runoff is about 2 to 4 times greater than the runoff during the January 1995 storm, mean winter transport may be similar to irrigation season transport. This conclusion is tentative primarily because of insufficient information on long-term seasonal variations in suspended sediment and organochlorine concentrations. Nevertheless, runoff from infrequent winter storms will continue to deliver a significant load of sediment-bound organochiorine pesticides to the San Joaquin River even if irrigation-induced sediment transport is reduced. As a result, concentrations of organochlorine pesticides in San Joaquin River biota will continue to be relatively high compared to other regions of the United States.