Statistical analysis and speciation modeling of copper in Oregon highway runoff Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7w62fb79d

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  • Low levels of copper have been shown to impair the olfactory system of threatened and endangered (T&E) salmon, decreasing their predator avoidance behavior and likely increasing mortality. However, only dissolved copper (dissCu) present as the cupric ion (Cu2+) and weakly complexed species are truly bioavailable. Previous studies indicate the vast majority of dissCu in natural waters is complexed with dissolved organic matter (DOM). Highway stormwater runoff is a significant source of dissCu to receiving waters. Assessing factors that may impact dissCu concentration and speciation in stormwater provides a framework for predicting when and where copper toxicity could be problematic. To approach this problem, a stormwater sampling effort was undertaken to examine impacts and correlations of site locale, traffic density, storm hydrology, the “first flush” effect and water quality parameters on measured dissCu concentrations in highway runoff. Analytically measured concentrations of key constituents in the stormwater were also entered into a chemical equilibrium model to predict copper speciation. The results of this study show that runoff from urban/high traffic sites, as well as runoff due to the “first flush” effect, exhibits the highest potential for copper toxicity. Furthermore, correlations of [dissCu] and Cu2+ with other variables are developed, the most meaningful of which suggests that hardness is the water quality parameter most directly (positively) associated with [Cu2+] due to competition with copper for binding sites on DOM.
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