By Dwight Q. Tanner and Tamara M. Wood
USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4092, 22 pages, 9 figures, 4 tables
This report presents the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, done in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), to evaluate the effects of the highway deicing material, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), on the water quality of Bear Creek, in the Cascade Range of Oregon. ODOT began using CMA (an alternative deicer that has fewer adverse environmental effects than road salt) in the mid-1990s and began this study with the USGS to ensure that there were no unexpected effects on the water quality of Bear Creek. Streamflow, precipitation, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and water temperature were measured continuously through the 1998-99 winter.
There was no measurable effect of the application of CMA to Highway 26 on the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), calcium concentration, or magnesium concentration of Bear Creek and its tributaries. BOD was small in all of the water samples, some of which were collected before CMA application, and some of which were collected after application. Five-day BOD values ranged from 0.1 milligrams per liter to 1.5 milligrams per liter, and 20-day BOD values ranged from 0.2 milligrams per liter to 2.0 milligrams per liter.
Dissolved copper concentrations in a small tributary ditch on the north side of Highway 26 exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aquatic life criteria on three occasions. These exceedances were probably not caused by the application of CMA because (1) one of the samples was a background sample (no recent CMA application), and (2) dissolved copper was not detected in Bear Creek water samples to which CMA was added during laboratory experiments.
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