Niagara Power Project FERC No. 2216

 

DESCRIBING CONTAMINANT LEVELS IN FISH IN LEWISTON RESERVOIR

 

HTML Format.  Text only

 

Prepared for: New York Power Authority 

Prepared by: The Louis Berger Group, Inc.

August 2005

 

___________________________________________________

 

Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The New York Power Authority is in the process of relicensing the Niagara Power Project, located in Lewiston, New York.  As part of this process, stakeholders to the relicensing requested a study to describe the contaminant levels in fish in the Lewiston Reservoir.  The study objective was to describe the concentration of contaminants, if any, in Lewiston Reservoir fish and to document available information regarding contamination of upper Niagara River fish. 

The Lewiston Reservoir has a gross storage capacity of 74,250 acre-feet.  The usable storage capacity is 69,500 acre-feet, or 94% of the gross storage capacity.  When the reservoir is at maximum water surface elevation, the water depth is approximately 42 feet.  At maximum reservoir drawdown, the average water depth of the wetted areas is just over 3 feet.  Typically, the reservoir is drawn down during weekdays and refilled at night (although it is not fully refilled each day), with a gradual drawdown through the week to its lowest level at the end of the week.  It is fully refilled on Saturday and Sunday.

Study components to meet the objectives included an evaluation of the sediment quality in the Lewiston Reservoir, the water quality in the reservoir and Niagara River, sedimentation processes in the reservoir, and an assessment of the bioavailability of any contaminants to selected Lewiston Reservoir species of fish, to provide a qualitative assessment of potential contaminant levels in these fish.  This approach was chosen, in lieu of sampling fish tissue in the reservoir, due to the dynamic nature of the system.  Specifically, the constant reservoir filling and water withdrawal during pumping and generation may affect fish residency time.  Because residence time and past habitat utilization of fish prior to being pumped into the reservoir is unknown, it is uncertain whether contaminant levels observed in short-term fish sampling would be representative of the longer-term contaminant levels of reservoir fish.

Sediment Quality in Lewiston Reservoir

Sediment quality data are available from samples collected from the upper 6 inches of the sediment column in the Lewiston Reservoir in 1983, 2002, and 2003.  Sediments in the reservoir were analyzed for metals, organic compounds, and grain size.  On average, the upper sediments consisted of 95% silt and clay with minor fractions of sand and gravel.  Contaminant concentrations detected in the sediments were compared to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) guidelines for human health bioaccumulation, which relate to an assumed risk associated with estimates of consumption and bioaccumulation of contaminants in fish (NYSDEC 1999a).  In addition, data were compared to probable effects concentrations (PEC) and threshold effects concentrations (TEC), which relate contaminant concentrations in sediment to biological effects on bottom-dwelling aquatic organisms (MacDonald et al. 2000); similar guidelines for aquatic life are available for metals from NYSDEC (1999a).

Contaminants that exceeded these guidelines in one or more samples included arsenic, lead, mercury, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and mirex.  Similar concentrations of these contaminants also were detected in some of the Niagara River samples collected in 2002.  A comparison with other published sediment quality data from sediments in the Niagara River, compiled in Environmental Standards, Inc. (ESI) 2005, shows that the contaminant concentrations in the sediments of the Lewiston Reservoir are well within the range of concentrations measured in the sediments of the Niagara River.

Water Quality in Lewiston Reservoir and Niagara River

Water quality studies in the Niagara River have been conducted for more than 20 years by Environment Canada and NYSDEC.  Environment Canada has maintained stations in the upper and lower Niagara River at Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, respectively.  NYSDEC has maintained a station in the lower Niagara River at Fort Niagara.  Water quality data also were obtained by the URS Corporation in 2003.  Contaminant concentrations in the surface water were compared to NYSDEC standards for survival and propagation of aquatic life and standards for the protection of human health from the consumption of fish (NYSDEC 1999b).

None of the measurements from these studies of organic compounds and heavy metals in the Niagara River since 1997 exceeded the NYSDEC water quality criteria for aquatic life effects, with the exception of iron.  Several organic compounds (hexachlorobenzene, octachlorostyrene, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane and metabolites, mirex, chlordane, dieldrin, and polychlorinated biphenyls) in the river exceeded the NYSDEC water quality criteria for human health (consumption of fish).  However, heavy metal and organic compound concentrations measured by the URS Corporation in 2003 in the river (at the New York Power Authority river intake structure) and in the Lewiston Reservoir were all below the detection limit with the exception of monomethyl mercury and the organic compound delta-BHC.

Turbidity and suspended sediment data also were compiled.  The suspended sediment concentrations are typically highest in the late fall and winter months as a result of storms stirring up sediments in Lake Erie and increasing sediment runoff from the tributaries to the Niagara River.

Sedimentation in Lewiston Reservoir

The net deposition rate in the Lewiston Reservoir was determined by comparing reservoir bottom topography/elevations between surveys conducted in September 1961 and in May 2001.  In this 39.7-year period, the average sediment deposition rate for the entire reservoir was approximately 0.29 inches/year.  Sediment is not deposited uniformly in the reservoir.  The reservoir has areas of deposition and areas of no deposition or minor erosion.  The primary depositional areas are located in the central parts of the reservoir.  Generally, deposition also does not occur on shallow areas in the northern parts of the reservoir; these areas are exposed at low water levels during drawdown.  Erosion of bottom sediment due to the pumping/draining of water in the reservoir appears to be limited to the immediate vicinity of the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant.  One of the reasons for the limited erosion in this area is likely the large rock apron that was placed on the reservoir floor in front of the plant during construction.

Waves in the Lewiston Reservoir are generally not expected to generate scour of the bottom sediments.  In the shallow areas of the reservoir that are exposed at low water elevations, the wave energy prevents settling sediment particles from permanent deposition.  Particles settle in the deeper part of the reservoir.  These settled particles are expected to contain chemical concentrations that reflect recent concentrations in suspended matter within the Niagara River.  Minor scour, if any, of sediment may only occur in the reservoir within a few yards of the dikes.

Bioavailability of Contaminants

Chemical or contaminant residues in fish are a function of chemical concentrations in the water and sediment in which they live, and the prey they ingest.  Fish take up chemicals in the water column via respiration through the gills and dermal contact (Connell 1989, USEPA 2000).  Chemicals in prey items are ingested.  Chemicals in sediment can be ingested incidentally while the fish is preying on benthic macroinvertebrates such as insect larvae.  Particulates, such as suspended sediment in the water column, can also be ingested.  Sediment and water column phases are interconnected in an ecosystem through fate and transport processes such as hydrodynamics, diffusion, particle deposition, and resuspension.

The potential source of contaminants in the water column is Niagara River water that is pumped into the reservoir.  Resuspension of sediment is likely limited to recent unconsolidated particulate matter that has settled to the reservoir floor, but has not become part of the permanent sediment column.  Scour of older sediments from the reservoir floor appears to be very minor.  In addition, dissolved contaminants leached from bottom sediments into the water column are expected to be an insignificant source due to the high exchange rate of water in the reservoir.  Therefore, it appears that the exposure of contaminants to fish in the Lewiston Reservoir is generally similar to the exposure to contaminants in the upper Niagara River and its tributaries, in areas of lower flow velocity and fine-grained sediment.

Contaminant Levels of Lewiston Reservoir Fish

Contaminant levels in fish living in the reservoir were evaluated using water quality and sediment data collected from the river and the reservoir, probable exposure pathways, existing fish tissue data for the river, and the life histories of the fish that occur in the reservoir.  Tissue analyses from fish in the Niagara River detected mercury and organic compounds.  Contaminant levels of Lewiston Reservoir fish are expected to be similar to the range of levels exhibited in fish living in fine-grained sediment areas of the upper Niagara River, based on the comparable contaminant levels in the water and in the fine-grained sediment of the reservoir and river.  Exposure pathways for fish in the Lewiston Reservoir and Niagara River are also similar in regard to water, sediment, and prey items.  Additionally, fish in the reservoir may not be permanent long-term residents of the reservoir.

There are no tissue data available for fish collected from the reservoir.  However, based on an evaluation of the available fish tissue data from the river, it is expected that carp, which is a bottom-feeding omnivore, would contain the highest relative concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls and certain pesticides, when compared to other fish species.  Other species such as yellow perch, rock bass, and smallmouth bass are expected to contain lower levels than carp, based on existing river tissue data.

Because contaminant levels in fish living in the reservoir are expected to be similar to fish in the upper Niagara River, the current health advisory provided by the New York State Department of Health for consumption of carp caught from the upper Niagara River should also be observed for carp caught from the Lewiston Reservoir.  In addition, any future health advisories that may be developed for the upper Niagara River by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the New York State Department of Health should be considered applicable to Lewiston Reservoir fish.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

Agencies

EC                   Environment Canada

IJC                   International Joint Commission

NOAA             National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NYPA              New York Power Authority

NYSDEC         New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

NYSDOH        New York State Department of Health

OMOE             Ontario Ministry of the Environment

USACE            United States Army Corps of Engineers

USEPA            United States Environmental Protection Agency

USGS               United States Geological Survey

Units of Measure

cfs                    cubic feet per second

cm                    centimeter

ft/s                   feet per second

gpm                  gallons per minute

h                      hour

kg                     kilogram

km                    kilometer

l                       liter

mg                    milligram

m/s                   meters per second

ng                     nanogram

NTU                Nephelometric Turbidity Unit

s                       second

μg                    microgram

USLSD            U.S. Lake Survey Datum 1935

Environmental

LEL                 lowest effects level

PAH                polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon

PEC                 probable effects concentration

PCB                 polychlorinated biphenyl

RWW               recombined whole water

SEL                  severe effects level

SVOC              semivolatile organic compound

TEC                 threshold effects concentration

TOC                 total organic carbon

TVS                 total volatile solids

VOC                volatile organic compound

Miscellaneous

LPGP               Lewiston Pump Generating Plant

NPP                 Niagara Power Project

NRTMP           Niagara River Toxics Management Plan

PID                  Photoionization Detector

RIBS                Rotating Intensive Basin Study

RMNPP           Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

 

 

1.0     INTRODUCTION

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is engaged in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project (NPP), located in Lewiston, Niagara County, New York.  The present operating license of the plant expires in August 2007.  As part of its preparation for the relicensing of the Project, NYPA is developing information related to the ecological, engineering, recreational, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects of the Project.

1.1         Objective

The objective of the study was to describe the concentration of contaminants, if any, in Lewiston Reservoir fish and to document available information on contamination of upper Niagara River fish.

Study components to meet the objectives included an evaluation of the sediment quality in the Lewiston Reservoir, the water quality in the reservoir and Niagara River, sedimentation processes in the reservoir, and an assessment of the bioavailability of any contaminants to selected Lewiston Reservoir species of fish, to provide a qualitative assessment of potential contaminant levels in these fish.  This approach was chosen, in lieu of sampling fish tissue in the reservoir, due to the dynamic nature of the reservoir, the uncertainty of fish residency time in the reservoir, and past habitat utilization in the upper river. 

1.2         Project Description

The 1,880-MW (firm capacity) NPP is one of the largest non-federal hydroelectric facilities in North America.  The NPP was licensed to the Power Authority of the State of New York (now NYPA) in 1957.  Construction of the Project began in 1958, and electricity was first produced in 1961.

1.2.1        Project Components

The NPP has several components that are described below and shown in Figure 1.2.1-1.

NYPA Intakes:  Two adjacent intakes are located approximately 2.6 miles upstream of Niagara Falls, and have a total withdrawal capacity of 110,000 cfs.

Water Intake Conduits:  Intake water bypasses Niagara Falls through two conduits with a length of 4.3 miles.  Travel time is less than 30 minutes at an average velocity of approximately 14 feet per second (ft/s) (Norm Stessing, NYPA, pers. comm., 10/3/03).  The conduits decrease in elevation by 11 feet between the intake and the forebay.  The conduits have a width of 46 feet and a maximum height of 66 feet.  The floor of the conduits is flat, and the ceiling is arched.  The conduits are closed structures, built with reinforced concrete, and the wall and floor thickness is 2.5 feet.  The total capacity of each conduit is 55,000 cfs. 

Forebay:  The forebay has an area of 71 acres and a capacity of 1.8 billion gallons.  It is approximately 4,200 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 110 feet deep.  The depth of water in the forebay varies between 35 and 63 feet, depending on operating conditions.

Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant:  The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (RMNPP) is NYPA’s main generating plant at the NPP with a head of approximately 300 feet.  The plant has 13 turbine generators with a total discharge capacity of 102,000 cfs.

Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (LPGP):  This plant is located at the east end of the forebay.  Generally, water is pumped into the Lewiston Reservoir during non-peak-usage conditions (i.e., at night and on weekends).  The water stored in the Lewiston Reservoir is used for power generation during peak-usage periods (i.e., daytime Monday through Friday).  The plant has 12 pump turbines, although not all units are necessarily used during pumping or power generation.  The total generating capacity of the station under normal conditions is approximately 330 MW, and the forebay serves as the tailwater during power generation.

1.2.2        Lewiston Reservoir

The reservoir was built above ground and is surrounded by a rock-filled dike with an impervious clay core (Figure 1.2.2-1).  It has a circumference of 6.5 miles.  The reservoir has a gross storage capacity of 74,250 acre-feet (24 billion gallons).  The usable storage capacity is 69,500 acre-feet, or 94% of the gross storage capacity.  The maximum water surface elevation is 658 feet U.S. Lake Survey Datum 1935 (USLSD).  When the reservoir is at maximum water elevation, the water depth is about 42 feet and the surface area is 1,900 acres (Figure 1.2.2-2).  At maximum reservoir drawdown to an elevation of 620 feet, the average water depth of the wetted areas is just over 3 feet (NYPA 2002).

In general, from Monday through Friday, the daily net drawdown in the reservoir is approximately 6 to 7 feet.  The water level of the reservoir is usually at its lowest near the end of the week (Figure 1.2.2-3).  During the weekend, the reservoir is typically refilled, bringing the reservoir water level back to its maximum elevation on Monday morning.  Typically, in the summer and fall, the reservoir is drawn down to an elevation of approximately 625 feet by Friday (see Appendix A for detailed water level data).  At this elevation, 15% of the gross storage capacity remains in the reservoir.  The withdrawal and regeneration pattern from July 16 to 23, 2001, reflects the typical high replacement rate of water in the reservoir (Figure 1.2.2-3).  The changes in the storage capacity based on the pattern in Figure 1.2.2-3 relative to the total storage capacity are as follows:

 

                                                         Elevation            Percent of Gross Storage

         Day                     Time          (USLSD 1935)       Capacity Remaining

         Monday                6:00h              658.0                           100%

         Monday               21:00h               636.4                             44%

         Tuesday                 6:00h              648.9                             76%

         Tuesday               22:00h               630.1                             28%

         Wednesday            6:00h              643.3                             62%

         Wednesday          21:00h               623.7                             12%

         Thursday               6:00h              639.1                             51%

         Thursday             21:00h               622.8                             10%

         Friday                    7:00h              639.3                             51%

         Friday                  20:00h               628.3                             23%

         Saturday                7:00h              644.3                             64%

         Saturday              19:00h               639.8                             53%

         Sunday                  7:00h              655.8                             94%

         Sunday                19:00h               644.6                             65%

During the non-tourist season (i.e., November through March), drawdown of the Lewiston Reservoir to 625 feet is less common since water levels are higher because storage in the lowest part of the reservoir is held in reserve in case it is needed to compensate for reduced diversion caused by ice problems (URS et al. 2005a; see Appendix A for water level data for year 2002). 

On average, the water surface elevation in the reservoir is approximately two thirds of the maximum elevation.  Between years 1991 and 2002, the mean annual water elevation in the reservoir ranged from 641.3 to 646.4 feet USLSD; the minimum annual water elevation ranged from 620.2 to 626.9 feet; the maximum elevation ranged from 658.5 to 658.8 feet (Table 1.2.2-1).

 

Table 1.2.2-1

Lewiston Reservoir - Water Level Statistics (in feet USLSD 1935)

 

January

February

March

April

Year

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

1991

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1992

629.1

658.2

647.3

639.6

658.1

649.4

632.8

658.2

649.2

625.5

658.2

641.8

1993

631.7

658.3

650.5

630.3

658.2

649.1

634.5

657.9

647.4

625.9

658.4

643.3

1994

632.6

658.2

647.9

637.7

658.2

648.1

637.0

657.5

648.1

622.0

658.6

639.6

1995

624.2

654.6

640.9

625.8

658.4

646.7

627.5

657.5

643.7

621.8

658.3

640.5

1996

628.0

658.2

646.8

633.2

658.4

647.2

633.0

658.0

646.1

627.5

658.2

642.6

1997

628.7

658.4

647.4

636.4

658.3

650.6

639.9

658.0

653.1

631.4

658.5

647.9

1998

636.3

658.5

649.7

631.5

657.2

649.7

630.8

658.1

648.3

631.0

658.4

644.2

1999

626.1

658.3

644.0

625.6

657.3

643.3

627.2

658.0

644.5

621.9

658.5

641.4

2000

627.3

656.9

643.8

624.4

658.2

643.5

630.0

658.6

644.3

635.2

658.3

648.3

2001

633.4

658.5

648.9

633.4

658.6

649.6

632.2

658.4

648.6

627.1

658.5

646.1

2002

628.6

657.9

648.2

632.0

658.3

649.3

629.2

658.0

646.0

626.3

657.9

643.5

 

TABLE 1.2.2-1 (CONT.)

Lewiston Reservoir - Water Level Statistics (in feet USLSD 1935)

 

 

May

 

June

July

August

Year

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

1991

 

 

 

623.4

657.8

642.1

626.3

655.9

641.2

622.1

658.5

640.4

1992

621.3

658.3

640.6

621.6

658.4

641.3

621.3

658.3

640.8

621.9

658.5

640.8

1993

621.7

658.2

640.4

621.1

658.2

640.6

624.3

658.0

640.2

621.0

658.5

640.4

1994

621.5

658.3

640.5

620.6

658.1

639.2

620.5

658.1

640.0

620.2

658.0

640.5

1995

622.0

658.2

640.3

621.7

658.4

639.7

620.7

658.6

640.6

620.3

658.3

640.0

1996

626.0

658.1

642.3

626.8

657.8

643.1

627.3

658.3

643.3

626.9

658.5

642.6

1997

628.8

658.6

646.3

630.7

658.2

645.6

630.4

657.8

645.3

627.9

657.8

642.5

1998

621.9

654.9

637.6

627.5

657.7

641.5

628.5

658.1

641.7

628.8

657.8

642.5

1999

626.0

658.3

642.6

625.8

658.2

641.4

624.1

658.4

642.5

623.9

658.6

642.6

2000

629.1

658.0

645.8

634.9

658.6

648.0

626.1

658.3

644.5

625.2

658.0

644.1

2001

629.1

658.8

645.1

621.4

658.2

640.9

622.8

658.6

640.9

622.4

658.5

642.2

2002

624.1

658.4

646.0

629.2

658.6

646.6

626.3

658.2

642.8

624.8

658.4

643.2

 

Table 1.2.2-1 (CONT.)

Lewiston Reservoir - Water Level Statistics (in feet USLSD 1935)

 

September

October

November

December

Annual

Year

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

Min

Max

Mean

1991

623.2

658.5

641.0

620.6

657.7

639.8

624.7

655.7

641.2

626.3

657.8

643.3

620.6

658.5

641.3

1992

626.1

658.0

642.7

622.9

658.2

640.7

630.5

657.9

647.2

640.1

656.6

650.1

621.3

658.5

644.3

1993

622.4

658.0

639.9

621.7

658.2

640.6

627.4

656.5

642.7

630.2

657.3

644.4

621.0

658.5

643.3

1994

620.6

658.3

640.7

621.6

658.4

642.7

622.0

657.1

640.8

620.3

653.5

637.2

620.2

658.6

642.1

1995

621.0

658.3

639.3

620.7

658.1

640.5

622.0

658.3

639.2

620.6

658.2

645.8

620.3

658.6

641.4

1996

627.7

658.5

643.4

626.6

658.2

644.5

627.2

657.0

642.2

629.1

657.2

646.8

626.0

658.5

644.2

1997

630.3

657.9

643.4

628.0

657.7

642.1

626.9

657.3

645.0

636.1

658.4

648.3

626.9

658.6

646.4

1998

624.0

658.4

640.9

626.6

658.0

641.3

625.1

658.3

643.3

625.9

657.9

642.6

621.9

658.5

643.6

1999

625.6

658.6

641.8

624.2

658.4

641.9

623.7

658.6

642.7

624.2

657.1

641.6

621.9

658.6

642.5

2000

624.4

658.6

642.0

629.0

658.2

645.0

628.3

656.8

646.0

632.5

657.8

647.4

624.4

658.6

645.2

2001

621.8

657.5

639.7

623.0

657.9

642.7

624.0

658.4

645.6

626.5

657.9

646.7

621.4

658.8

644.7

2002

622.8

658.4

640.7

621.9

658.3

641.7

625.1

657.4

642.2

632.3

658.5

648.1

621.9

658.6

644.8

Data from URS et al. 2005a.

 

Figure 1.2.1-1

Niagara Power Project Features

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 1.2.2-1

Aerial Photograph of Niagara Power Project Looking East

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 1.2.2-2

Water Depths at Full Reservoir – Water Elevation at 658 Feet

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 1.2.2-3

Lewiston Reservoir – Hourly Water Level Graph for July 16-23, 2001

Source:  URS et al. 2005a

 

2.0     SOURCES OF INFORMATION

This report relied primarily on the review of existing data and information.  Data were obtained from the following key sources:

NYPA:  Reports, book citations, unpublished data, scientific journal articles, photographs, maps, and other information relevant for this study; these sources are referenced in the appropriate report sections below.  NYPA also provided copies of the First Stage Consultation Report (NYPA 2002), and the Water Level Report (URS et al. 2005a).  NYPA further provided electronic data for a topographic survey conducted in the Lewiston Reservoir on September 6, 1961, and a bathymetric survey on May 14-21, 2001 (TVGA and C&C 2002).  These survey data were processed to provide detailed information on sediment accumulation.  In addition, the data were used to calculate the average annual sediment accumulation rate in the reservoir.

Literature Search:  A computer literature search was conducted for references related to the Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir, relevant for this study.  Databases accessed included:  Biological Sciences, Water Resources Abstracts, Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts, and GeoRef.

Agency Contacts:  Regulatory agencies were contacted for data on water quality, sediment quality, and fish tissue contaminants in the Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir.  These agencies included the following:

·         New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)

·         New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)

·         Environment Canada (EC)

·         U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

·         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)

·         U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  (USACE)

·         International Joint Commission (IJC)

In addition, a site visit was conducted on October 3, 2003.  The visit included discussions of detailed operational procedures for the Lewiston Reservoir and review of the photo archive for the construction period.  Additional observations of the reservoir surface were made on September 5, 2003, at low reservoir water surface elevations, as well as on October 15, 2003, during a high-wind event. 

3.0     SEDIMENT QUALITY IN LEWISTON RESERVOIR

Sediment studies in the Lewiston Reservoir were conducted in 1983, 2002, and 2003.

3.1        Sample Collection and Analysis

3.1.1        1983 Sediment Study

Sediment samples were collected on October 18, 1983 (Ecological Analysts 1984a).  Samples were collected from the bottom of the Lewiston Reservoir at a proposed expansion intake construction area, located approximately 600 feet north of the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (Figure 3.1.1-1).  Three grab samples were collected at points approximately 10 feet apart from each other.

Samples were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and USEPA Extraction Procedure toxicity (referred to as ‘EP toxicity’) to evaluate disposal options.  The EP toxicity extract was tested for Primary Drinking Water Regulations metals, pesticides, and herbicides.  However, the EP toxicity analyses are not suitable for comparison with current guidelines for sediment toxicity.  Current sediment guidelines require analyses of the complete sample, or data analyses using the Equilibrium Partitioning (EqP) approach.  Only the PCB data from the 1983 study are suitable for comparison.

3.1.2        2002 Sediment Study

Sediment grab samples were collected from October 1 to 3, 2002, at five locations in the Lewiston Reservoir using a Ponar dredge (RES-SED 05 to 09; Figure 3.1.1-1) (ESI 2005).  Stations were located in areas of highest sediment accumulation rates in the reservoir.  These grab samples represent the upper 6 inches of the sediment column.

In addition, two samples from the upper Niagara River and two samples from the lower Niagara River were analyzed (Figure 3.1.2-1).  The upper Niagara River samples were collected with a corer.  The lower Niagara River samples were collected by stainless-steel trowel from shallow water.  Samples submitted for analyses were representative of the upper 6 inches of the sediment column.  Samples were analyzed for the following parameters:

Priority toxic pollutants of the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan (NRTMP):  Eighteen pollutants were identified in 1987 for abatement by USEPA, NYSDEC, EC, and Ontario Ministry of the Environment (OMOE) (arsenic, lead, mercury, tetrachloroethylene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, chrysene, PCBs, mirex, chlordane, dieldrin, toxaphene, hexachlorobenzene, DDT and metabolites, dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD), and octachlorostyrene).  These pollutants were selected based on their exceedances of water, fish, and sediment criteria values in the Niagara River.

Other Parameters:  Other parameters consisted of total polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cadmium, total organic carbon (TOC), total volatile solids, and grain size.

Refer to ESI 2005 for the comprehensive analytical results including reporting detection limits. 

3.1.3        2003 Sediment Study

Additional sediment samples were collected in the Lewiston Reservoir at 5 stations (RES-SED 13 to 17) (Figure 3.1.1-1) on October 30, 2003 (URS 2005).  These additional samples were collected for two reasons:  (1) to supplement the 2002 sediment study, which analyzed for limited volatile and semivolatile organic compounds; and (2) to estimate the volatization of contaminants from reservoir sediment that is exposed during low water levels.  Samples were collected from the upper 6 inches of the sediment column.  Samples were analyzed for 48 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 70 semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and total organic carbon (TOC).  These compounds are listed in Tables 3.1.3-1 and 3.1.3-2.  Comprehensive analytical results including reporting detection limits are provided in URS 2005.

3.2  Sediment Quality Criteria

Sample analysis data were compared to the following sediment guidelines:

NYSDEC Technical Guidance for Screening Contaminated Sediments (NYSDEC 1999a):  The criteria under the NYSDEC guidelines are based on two classes of contaminants:  non-polar organic contaminants and metals.

Organic Contaminants:  The non-polar organic contaminant approach is an equilibrium approach to estimate the biological impacts of a contaminant due to its affinity to sorb to organic carbon in the sediment.  The criteria are normalized for organic carbon content.  The NYSDEC guidelines for organic contaminants identify separate values for human health, bioaccumulation, and benthic aquatic life toxicity (both acute and chronic).

Metals:  Metals criteria are derived from the guidelines of OMOE (Persaud et al. 1992) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Long and Morgan 1990).  The NYSDEC guidelines distinguish between lowest effect levels (LEL) and severe effect levels (SEL).  The LEL is the level of sediment contamination that can be tolerated by the majority of benthic organisms, but still causes toxicity to a few species; the SEL is the concentration at which pronounced disturbance of the sediment dwelling community can be expected (Persaud et al. 1992). 

Probable Effects Concentrations (PEC) and Threshold Effects Concentrations (TEC) (MacDonald et al. 2000): These guidelines are based on an evaluation of contaminant concentrations in sediments and observed biological effects on bottom-dwelling organisms.  PECs are contaminant concentrations in the sediment, above which harmful effects are likely to be observed.  TECs are contaminant concentrations in the sediment, below which adverse effects on bottom-dwelling organisms are not expected to occur, or above which toxicity may be observed.

3.3  Data Evaluation

Sediments in the Lewiston Reservoir studied in 2002 and 2003 consisted on average of 94.8% silt and clay, 4.7% sand, and 0.5% gravel (Table 3.3-1).  This corresponds to the description of the sediment in the 1983 study, which was described as visually uniform, consisting of black mud 6 to 10 inches thick (Ecological Analysts 1984a).  The silt and clay fraction in the sediments from the upper Niagara River stations, collected in 2002, was on average 30.5%; the silt and clay fraction in the lower Niagara River sediments was on average 12.0% (Table 3.3-1).

The TOC content in the Lewiston Reservoir samples ranged from 1.3 and 1.7%; the TOC content in the river samples ranged from 0.02 to 1.2% (Table 3.3-2).  The total volatile solids (TVS) content in the Lewiston Reservoir samples ranged from 2.2 and 2.7%; the TVS content in the river samples ranged from 1.9 and 2.5% by weight.

A total of 19 contaminants were detected in the Lewiston Reservoir (Tables 3.3-2 and 3.3-3).  Contaminant concentrations in the Lewiston Reservoir are discussed in more detail below based on the data presented in ESI (2005), Ecological Analysts (1984a), and URS (2005).  Available sediment data from the Niagara River also are discussed.

3.3.1        Metals

All metals data were collected during the 2002 sediment study.

Arsenic:  The mean arsenic concentration in the Lewiston Reservoir samples was below TEC and PEC guideline values, although sample RES-SED08 had an arsenic concentration above the TEC guideline value.  The mean arsenic concentrations were slightly above the NYSDEC LEL guideline value.  Arsenic concentrations in the Niagara River were below the guideline values.

Lead:  The mean lead concentration and the concentrations of three individual samples in the Lewiston Reservoir samples were above the TEC and NYSDEC LEL guideline values.  None of the samples exceeded the NYSDEC SEL and PEC values.  Lead was also detected in the Niagara River samples with one lower Niagara River sample exceeding NYSDEC LEL and TEC guideline values.

Mercury:  The mean mercury concentration in the Lewiston Reservoir samples was below TEC and PEC guideline values, although one sample exceeded the TEC value.  However, the mean and individual mercury concentrations exceeded the NYSDEC LEL guideline value slightly.  Two of the Niagara River samples also exceeded the TEC and NYSDEC LEL values.  The highest mercury concentration of all samples was measured in the lower Niagara River.

3.3.2        Volatile Organic Compounds

During the 2002 study, one VOC was analyzed (tetrachloroethylene) (ESI 2005).  Concentrations in the Lewiston Reservoir sediments were below the detection limit (Table 3.3-2).  Tetrachloroethylene was detected in one of the lower Niagara River samples.

During the 2003 study (URS 2005) of 48 VOCs, only two VOCs had detectable concentrations.  Acetone was detected at a mean concentration of 30 μg/kg; methyl ethyl ketone (2-butanone) was detected at a mean concentration of 6.3 μg/kg.  There are no sediment NYSDEC or TEC/PEC guideline values for these compounds.  Please note, however, that these two compounds are common laboratory contaminants, which could explain their detection at these low concentrations.

3.3.3        Semivolatile Organic Compounds

All analyzed SVOCs with detectable concentrations were PAHs.  In the 2002 study (ESI 2005), only PAHs were analyzed.  All analyzed PAH concentrations exceeded the NYSDEC guideline values for human health bioaccumulation.  There are no benthic aquatic life toxicity guideline values from NYSDEC.  PAHs in the Lewiston Reservoir also exceeded the TEC (but not the PEC) for those compounds with available guideline values.  PAH concentrations in one of the lower Niagara River stations exceeded PEC guideline values and were higher than the average concentrations in the Lewiston Reservoir.  The other three Niagara River stations had lower or no detectable PAH concentrations.  Note that sample UNR-SED01, near the shoreline at the intakes, was diluted 200-fold due to interfering non-target compounds which increased the reporting detection limit to 71,000 μg/kg.  This dilution probably explains the lack of PAH detections in the sample, which, based on field observations and Photoionization Detector (PID) readings, was expected to have detectable levels of PAHs.  The PID measurement for this sample is 4.8 ppm.  There was an organic odor associated with this sample.

In the 2003 study (URS 2005) of 70 SVOCs, twelve compounds had detectable concentrations (Table 3.3-3).  These PAHs were acenaphthylene, anthracene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, chrysene, fluoranthene, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, phenanthrene, and pyrene.  All concentrations of PAHs for which NYSDEC guideline values for human health bioaccumulation are available exceeded their respective guideline values.  (Please note that the guideline values vary between the 2002 and 2003 studies, as they are a function of the organic carbon content in the respective sediment samples.)  NYSDEC guideline values for benthic aquatic life toxicity are available for anthracene, fluoranthene, phenanthrene, and pyrene; none of the detected PAHs exceeded their respective guideline values.  The TEC guideline values were exceeded by anthracene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, chrysene, fluoranthene, and pyrene.  None of the PAHs exceeded the PEC guideline values.

3.3.4        PCBs

PCB concentrations measured in the Lewiston Reservoir in the 2002 study ranged from 44 to 190 μg/kg with a mean of 114 μg/kg.  The mean concentrations exceeded the TEC guideline value of 60 μg/kg.  However, concentrations were well below the PEC guideline value.  PCB concentrations of all samples exceeded NYSDEC guideline values for human health bioaccumulation, as well as the NYSDEC LEL guideline value.

PCB concentrations in the two lower Niagara River stations were comparable or higher than concentrations in the Lewiston Reservoir.  PCB analyses were below the detection limit in the upper Niagara River samples.  The NYSDEC SEL guideline value was only exceeded by one of the lower Niagara River samples.

PCB concentrations in the 1983 study were slightly above the range of concentrations in the 2002 study with a mean concentration of 221 μg/kg (Table 3.3-2).

3.3.5        Pesticides

Among the eight priority pollutant pesticides analyzed in the sediment, only mirex was detected in one sample in the Lewiston Reservoir during the 2002 study (Table 3.3-2).  There are no TEC/PEC guideline values for mirex.  The concentration exceeded the NYSDEC guideline value for both human health bioaccumulation and benthic aquatic life chronic toxicity.  DDT compounds were reported as below the detection limits (ranging from 21 to 40 μg/kg) in sediment from the Lewiston Reservoir.

One of the upper Niagara River samples contained mirex at a significantly elevated concentration, similar to what was found in the Lewiston Reservoir samples.  In addition, one upper and one lower Niagara River sample contained hexachlorobenzene (HCB); this compound was not detected in the Lewiston Reservoir samples.

3.3.6        Other Parameters

Octachlorostyrene and dioxin were not detected in either the Lewiston Reservoir or Niagara River samples that were collected in the 2002.

3.4  Sediment Quality – Discussion

Several contaminants detected in one or more sediment samples from the Lewiston Reservoir exceeded the NYSDEC and TEC guideline values, including arsenic, lead, mercury, PAHs, mirex, and PCBs.  Elevated concentrations of some of these contaminants also were detected in Niagara River samples.

A comparison was made by ESI (2005) between 2002 sediment data from the Lewiston Reservoir and historic sediment data from the Niagara River (Table 3.4-1).  The historic river data were collected by USEPA, NYSDEC, OMOE, and are published in technical journal articles (NYSDEC 1994a).  Data were collected largely during the previous two decades from areas in the upper Niagara River including at the head of the river near Buffalo Harbor, Tonawanda Channel, near Bird Island and near Twomile Creek.  Table 3.4-1 shows that contaminant concentrations measured in Lewiston Reservoir sediments were well within the range of contaminant concentrations measured in Niagara River sediments in the past.  The maximum concentration in river sediments was higher than the maximum concentration of reservoir sediment for all compared compounds.  This finding is logical since the only source of sediment in the Lewiston Reservoir is the Niagara River.  Therefore, contaminants in sediment deposited in the Lewiston Reservoir are also expected to be found in the sediment in some locations in the Niagara River.

 

Table 3.1.3-1

Volatile Organic Compounds Analyzed in the Sediment in 2003

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

Bromomethane

1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane

Carbon disulfide

1,1,2-Trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (Freon 113)

Carbon tetrachloride

1,1,2-Trichloroethane

Chlorobenzene

1,1-Dichloroethane

Chloroethane

1,1-Dichloroethene

Chloroform

1,2-Dichloroethane

Chloromethane

1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene

Cyclohexane

1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane

Dibromochloromethane

1,2-Dibromoethane (Ethylene dibromide)

Dichlorodifluoromethane (Freon 12)

1,2-Dichlorobenzene

Ethylbenzene

cis-1,2-Dichloroethene

Isopropylbenzene (Cumene)

trans-1,2-Dichloroethene

Methyl acetate

1,2-Dichloropropane

Methylcyclohexane

1,3-Dichlorobenzene

Methyl ethyl ketone (2-Butanone)

cis-1,3-Dichloropropene

Methyl tert-butyl ether

trans-1,3-Dichloropropene

Methylene chloride

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

Styrene

2-Hexanone

Tetrachloroethene

4-Methyl-2-pentanone

Toluene

Acetone

Trichloroethene

Benzene

Trichlorofluoromethane (Freon 11)

Bromodichloromethane

Vinyl chloride

Bromoform

Xylene (total)

 

Table 3.1.3-2

Semivolatile Organic Compounds Analyzed in the Sediment in 2003

1,1’-Biphenyl

Benzo(a)pyrene

1,2-4-Trichlorobenzene

Benzo(b)fluoranthene

1,2-Dichlorobenzene

Benzo(g,h,i)perylene

1,3-Dichlorobenzene

Benzo(k)fluoranthene

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

bis(2-Chloroethoxy)methane

2,4,5-Trichlorophenol

bis(2-Chloroethyl)ether

2,4,6-Trichlorophenol

bis(2-Chloroisopropyl)ether

2,4-Dicholorophenol

bis(2-Ethylhexyl)phthalate

2,4-Dimethylphenol

Butylbenzylphthalate

2,4-Dinitrophenol

Caprolactam

2,4-Dinitrotoluene

Carbazole

2,6-Dinitrotoluene

Chrysene

2-Chloronaphthalene

Dibenz(a,h)anthracene

2-Chlorophenol

Dibenzofuran

2-Methylnaphthalene

Diethylphthalate

2-Methylphenol (o-cresol)

Dimethylphthalate

2-Nitroaniline

Di-n-butylphthalate

2-Nitrophenol

Di-n-octylphthalate

3,3’-Dichlorobenzidine

Fluoranthene

3-Nitroaniline

Fluorene

4,6-Dinitro-2-methylphenol

Hexachlorobenzene

4-Bromophenyl-phenylether

Hexachlorobutadiene

4-Chloro-3-methylphenol

Hexachlorocyclopentadiene

4-Chloroaniline

Hexachloroethane

4-Chlorophenyl-phenylether

Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene

4-Methylphenol (p-cresol)

Isophorone

4-Nitroaniline

Naphthalene

4-Nitrophenol

Nitrobenzene

Acenaphthene

N-Nitrosodimethylamine

Acenaphthylene

N-Nitroso-di-n-propylamine

Acetophenone

N-Nitrosodiphenylamine

Anthracene

Pentachlorophenol

Atrazine

Phenanthrene

Benzaldehyde

Phenol

Benzo(a)anthracene

Pyrene

 

Table 3.3-1

Grain Size of Lewiston Reservoir and Niagara River Sediments

 

 

Percent by Weight of Total Sample

 

 

Upper Niagara River

Lower Niagara River 

Lewiston Reservoir

Grain Size

UNR-SED 01

UNR-SED 02

Mean

LNR-SED 03

LNR-SED 04

Mean

RES-SED 05

RES-SED 06

RES-SED 07

RES-SED 08

RES-SED 09

RES-SED 13

RES-SED 14

RES-SED 15

RES-SED 16

RES-SED 17

Mean

Gravel

10.1

10.7

10.4

15.3

7.2

11.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

2.3

0.0

0.2

2.6

0.5

Sand 

65.3

53.0

59.2

72.5

81.0

76.8

7.4

4.1

1.2

0.3

0.1

1.3

13.6

1.0

3.1

15.2

4.7

Coarse

11.1

18.9

15.0

10.8

23.7

17.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.7

0.0

0.7

1.3

0.4

Medium

11.6

12.6

12.1

21.9

39.8

30.9

0.4

0.5

0.2

0.1

0.0

0.5

4.2

0.3

0.6

3.5

1.0

Fine

42.7

21.6

32.2

39.9

17.6

28.8

7.0

3.6

1.0

0.2

0.1

0.8

7.8

0.7

1.8

10.4

3.3

Silt 

19.3

7.8

13.6

10.2

9.9

10.1

59.0

63.1

61.4

55.9

44.5

98.7

84.1

99.0

96.7

82.2

94.8

Clay

5.3

28.5

16.9

2.0

1.8

1.9

33.6

32.9

37.4

43.9

55.4

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

99.9

100.0

100.0

100.1

100.0

100.1

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Note:  Data source for Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir (SED01 to 09) samples:  ESI 2005.  Data source for Lewiston Reservoir (SED13 to 17) samples:  URS 2005.

 

Table 3.3-2

Contaminants in Sediments in the Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir – 2002 and 1983 Studies

Parameter

 Priority Pollutant

 Units

Upper
Niagara River

Lower
Niagara River

Lewiston Reservoir

Range of Applicable NYSDEC Guidelines

for Individual Samples (3, 5)

TEC/PEC

Guideline Values (4)

 UNR-SED01

 UNR-SED02

 LNR-SED03

 LNR-SED04

 RES-SED05

 RES-SED06

 RES-SED07

 RES-SED08

 RES-SED09

 Mean –
 Lewiston Reservoir

Human
Health

Bioaccumulation

Benthic Aquatic Life Acute Toxicity

Benthic Aquatic Life Chronic Toxicity

Threshold Effect Concentration (TEC)

Probable Effects Concentration (PEC)

 Lowest

 Criterion

 Highest

 Criterion

 Lowest 

 Criterion

 Highest 

 Criterion

 Lowest 

 Criterion/

 LEL

 Highest 

 Criterion/

 SEL

Sediment Study - October 2002 (1) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metals

Arsenic

l

mg/kg

1.6

4.7

4.9

2.2

5.0

5.4

5.9

14.5

8.7

7.9

 

 

 

 

6.0

33

9.8

33

 

Lead

l

mg/kg

22.2

6.8

39.7

4.2

36.8

32.6

31.6

72.4

46.6

44.0

 

 

 

 

31.0

110

35.8

128

 

Mercury

l

mg/kg

0.265

 

0.577

 

0.206

0.169

0.171

0.175

0.173

0.179

 

 

 

 

0.15

1.30

0.18

1.06

VOCs

Tetrachloroethylene (TCE)

l

μg/kg

 

 

0.62

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.44

na

na

na

SVOCs

Benzo(a)anthracene

l

μg/kg

 

 

2,100

 

480

360

280

450

260

366

15.34

21.84

na

na

108

1,050

   (PAHs)

Benzo(a)pyrene

l

μg/kg

 

26

2,900

 

710

570

490

840

560

634

0.35

21.84

na

na

150

1,450

 

Benzo(b)fluoranthene

l

μg/kg

 

27

2,600

 

860

670

670

1,100

750

810

0.35

21.84

na

na

na

 

Benzo(k)fluoranthene

l

μg/kg

 

 

2,400

 

630

540

380

690

480

544

15.34

21.84

na

na

na

 

Chrysene

l

μg/kg

 

55

2,200

 

800

640

620

1,100

640

760

0.35

21.84

na

na

166

1,290

 

Total PAHs

 

μg/kg

 

405

22,000

 

7,400

6,100

5,500

9,500

6,000

6,900

na

na

na

1,610

22,800

 PCBs

Total PCBs

l

μg/kg

 

 

470

120

190

170

110

44

57

114

0.0002

0.0134

687

46,381

5

324

59.8

676

Pesticides

Mirex

l

μg/kg

6,400

 

 

 

53

 

 

 

 

 

0.28

1.06

 

 

3

11

na

 

Chlordane (alpha, gamma, oxychlordane)

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.24

17.6

 

Dieldrin

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.9  

61.8

 

Toxaphene

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

na

 

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)

l

μg/kg

21,000

 

190

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.04

2.52

36,506

107,156

22,391

65,726

na

 

4,4'-DDD

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.88

28

 

4'4-DDE

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.28

31

 

4,4'-DDT

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.16

572

Dioxin

2,3,7,8-TCDD

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 na

Others

Octachlorostyrene (OCS)

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

na

Parameters

Total Organic Carbon

 

%

0.40

0.03

1.18

0.02

1.51

1.34

1.68

1.53

1.66

1.54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 na

Total Volatile Solids

 

%WW

1.89

2.08

2.23

2.52

2.67

2.67

2.32

2.21

2.46

2.47

 

 

 

 

 

 

na

Sediment Study – October 1983 (2) 

Sample No.:

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PCBs

 

l

μg/kg

 

 

 

 

232

241

189

 

 

221

nd

nd

nd

59.8

676

(1) ESI 2005; (2) Ecological Analysts 1984a; (3) NYSDEC 1999a; (4) MacDonald et al. 2000.  (5) For organics, the lowest and highest criteria were calculated based on the organic carbon concentrations of the collected samples with detected concentrations.  For metals, Lowest Effects Levels (LEL) and Severe Effects Levels (SEL) apply.  Blank data fields = Concentrations are below the detection limit.  Bold values = Value exceeds any of one of the NYSDEC or PEC/TEC guidelines.  na = Not available.  nd = Not available due to missing organic carbon concentration data in the sediment; concentrations most likely exceed guideline values.

 

Table 3.3-3

Contaminants in Sediments in Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir - 2003 Study

Parameter

Priority Pollutant

Units

Lewiston Reservoir

Range of Applicable NYSDEC Guidelines Values

 for Individual Samples (2, 4)

TEC/PEC

Guideline Values (3)

RES-SED13

RES-SED14

RES-SED15

RES-SED16

RES-SED17

Mean -
Lewiston Reservoir

Human
Health Bioaccumulation

Benthic Aquatic Life Acute Toxicity

Benthic Aquatic Life Chronic Toxicity

Threshold Effect Concentration (TEC)

Probable Effects Concentration (PEC)

Lowest Criteria

Highest Criteria

Lowest Criteria

Highest Criteria

Lowest Criteria

Highest Criteria

Sediment Study – October 2003 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOCs

Acetone

 

μg/kg

25.5

26.0

25.6

31.1

44.0

30.4

na

na

na

na

 

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (2-Butanone)

 

μg/kg

5.23

5.64

4.79

6.45

9.23

6.27

na

na

na

na

SVOCs

Acenaphthylene

 

μg/kg

94

 

113

 

130

 

na

na

na

na

   (PAHs)

Anthracene

 

μg/kg

79

 

101

 

107

 

na

15,973

19,128

1,733

2,076

57.2

845

 

Benzo(a)anthracene

l

μg/kg

217

54

129

64

300

153

15

25

na

na

108

1,050

 

Benzo(a)pyrene

l

μg/kg

250

66

167

93

356

186

15

25

na

na

150

1,450

 

Benzo(b)fluoranthene

l

μg/kg

259

70

162

141

393

205

15

25

na

na

na

 

Benzo(g,h,i)perylene

 

μg/kg

299

 

269

 

255

 

21

25

na

na

na

 

Benzo(k)fluoranthene

l

μg/kg

176

 

117

114

269

 

15

25

na

na

na

 

Chrysene

l

μg/kg

261

70

181

102

386

200

15

25

na

na

166

1,290

 

Fluoranthene

 

μg/kg

439

103

262

144

576

305

na

na

12,138

19,788

423

2,230

 

Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene

 

μg/kg

573

 

347

 

569

 

21

25

na

na

na

 

Phenanthrene

 

μg/kg

144

 

90

 

197

 

na

na

1,944

2,328

423

1,170

 

Pyrene

 

μg/kg

307

 

202

140

364

 

na

104,423

170,235

11,436

18,643

195

1,520

Others

Total Organic Carbon

 

%

1.94

1.66

1.93

1.19

1.62

1.54

na

(1)  URS 2005; (2) NYSDEC 1999a; (3) MacDonald et al. 2000; (4) For organics, the lowest and highest criteria were calculated based on the organic carbon concentrations of the collected samples with detected concentrations.  Blank data fields = Concentrations are below the detection limit.  Bold values = Values exceeds any of one of the NYSDEC or PEC/TEC guidelines.  na = Not available.

 

Table 3.4-1

Comparison of Constituent Levels in Lewiston Reservoir with Historic Niagara River Data

Compound

Units

Range in
Reservoir Samples

(ESI 2005)

Median Historical
Data Range

(various sources)

Maximum Historical
Data Range

 (various sources)

PAHs

μg/kg

5,500 - 9,500

710 - 39,000

6901 - 210,000

PCBs

μg/kg

44 - 190

23 - 2,140

136 - 26,000

Lead

mg/kg

32 - 72

13 - 250

32 - 1,760

Mercury

mg/kg

0.16 - 0.21

0.02 - 0.65

0.11 - 1.83

Mirex

μg/kg

53

4 - 86  (1)

6,400  (2)

Notes:  Data from ESI 2005.  (1) Actual range, not the median range.  (2) Concentration of single sample collected in the upper Niagara River.

 

Figure 3.1.1-1

Lewiston Reservoir Sediment Sampling Locations

 

Figure 3.1.2-1

Niagara River Sediment Sampling Locations

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

4.0     WATER QUALITY

4.1         Water Quality Studies

Water quality data from the Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir have been collected through the following ongoing programs or short-term studies:

Environment Canada:  Upstream/Downstream Niagara River Monitoring Program (ongoing)

NYSDEC:  Rotating Intensive Basin Survey (RIBS) (ongoing)

NYSDEC:  Compliance surveys (1993)

URS:  Surface water quality monitoring program (2003)

Ecological Analysts (for American Bechtel):  Lewiston Reservoir Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Studies (1982/83)

These programs or studies are summarized below.

4.1.1        Environment Canada:  Upstream/Downstream Niagara River Monitoring Program (1975-present)

EC established a water quality monitoring station at Niagara-on-the-Lake at the mouth of the Niagara River in 1975, and a second station at Fort Erie at the head of the river in 1983 (Figure 4.1.1-1).  The monitoring program, also known as the Upstream/Downstream Program, was designed to monitor the concentrations and loads of toxic contaminants in the river over time.  Monitoring data and trend analyses from these stations were a key component in the NRTMP, which was set up to reduce the toxic contaminant load in the river.

Data were collected at weekly intervals between 1986 and 1997 (EC 2000).  The interval was changed to biweekly thereafter.  Sampling between the two stations is offset by 15 to 18 hours to allow for travel time of the Niagara River water from the upstream to the downstream station.  Sample analyses and their detection limits are listed in Table 4.1.1-1.  Organics were analyzed in the dissolved and suspended particulate phases, following EC methodologies (NLET 1997).  Metals were only analyzed as whole water (i.e., combined particulate and dissolved phases) also following EC methodologies (NLET 1994); the exception was mercury, which was tested in the particulate phase only.  The EC methodologies are comparable to USEPA methods and were approved by USEPA for this Niagara River program (Don Williams, Environment Canada, pers. comm., 2/10/04).

Data are available up to March 1999; data collected subsequently have not yet been released (Don Williams, Environment Canada, pers. comm., 10/16/03).  Based on these analytical data, EC estimated the annual mean concentrations and loads using the Maximum Likelihood Estimation method (MLE), as described in El-Shaarawi (1989) and EC (2000).  Mean flow rates and suspended particulate matter concentrations for this period are presented in Table 4.1.1-2.  Contaminant concentrations from the period 4/1997 to 3/1999 are presented in Table 4.1.1-3 (from Merriman and Kuntz 2002).  Data from each sampling event during this period are attached as Appendix B.  Loads computed from 1986 to 1997 data are attached as Appendix C.

4.1.2        NYSDEC:  Rotating Intensive Basin Survey (ongoing)

NYSDEC monitors the water quality of the Niagara River through the RIBS program.  On the upper Niagara River, water quality monitoring has not been conducted since at least 1988.  On the lower Niagara River, water quality sampling has been conducted at a station at Fort Niagara (river mouth at Lake Ontario) since at least 1983 (Figure 4.1.1-1).  Samples are collected approximately six times during a sample year.  Measured parameters have changed over the years; they include physical properties (temperature, turbidity, pH, specific conductance), as well as nutrients, metals (total and dissolved), and selected organic compounds.  Water quality data are available through 2001.  Monitoring data from 1999 through 2001 are presented in Table 4.1.2-1.

4.1.3        NYSDEC:  Compliance Surveys on Niagara River (1993)

In addition to the RIBS program, NYSDEC collects data on the river through compliance surveys (James Vogel, NYSDEC, pers. comm., 9/26/03).  Specifically, water quality testing for priority pollutants is conducted at irregular intervals for industries along the Niagara River.  Aside from the effluent, the intake water is tested for comparison with the effluent quality.  Station locations and data sheets for these samples are provided in Appendix D.  Analyzed compounds included VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals.  Concentrations for these compounds were largely below the detection limit.  Specifically, data from the following water intake surveys were provided by NYSDEC:

Dupont, City of Niagara Falls (9/10/93):  Detected compounds consisted of dichlorobenzoic acid derivate (estimated), bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (estimated), and endosulfan sulfate.

Occidental Chemical Company, City of Niagara Falls (9/28/93):  Detected compounds consisted of substituted cycloalkanes and alkenes (estimated), gamma-BHC (estimated), delta-BHC, and heptachlor epoxide.

Dupont Yerkes, Town of Tonawanda (9/23/93):  Detected compounds consisted of diethylphthalate (estimated), substituted cycloalkane (estimated), alcohols (estimated), and zinc.

FMC Corporation, Town of Tonawanda (9/28/93):  Detected compounds consisted of diethylphthalate (estimated), substituted cycloalkane (estimated), alcohols (estimated), lead, and zinc.

General Motors Corporation, Town of Tonawanda (9/23/93):  Detected compounds consisted of diethylphthalate (estimated) and recoverable oil and grease.

4.1.4        URS:  Surface Water Quality Monitoring Program – Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir (2003)

As part of Project relicensing, NYPA through its consultant URS, collected water quality data for the waters within the Project area (URS et al. 2005b, URS and Gomez and Sullivan 2005).  Concentrations of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury), arsenic, VOCs (28 compounds), SVOCs (65 compounds), pesticides (19 compounds), PCBs, dioxins, and furans were measured at the following stations (Figure 4.1.4-1) (URS et al. 2005b):  Niagara River at the NYPA intake, conduits (one station in each conduit), forebay, and the Lewiston Reservoir (two stations).  A full list of the parameters is presented in URS et al. 2005b.  Samples were collected on October 7 at all stations with the exception of the eastern reservoir station, which was sampled on October 9, 2003, and during November of 2003.  The concentrations of most of the heavy metals and organic compounds were below the detection limit.  The concentration of monomethyl mercury, an organic form of mercury, was detected above detection limits in the eastern reservoir surface water sample collected on October 9, 2003.  In addition, the organic compound delta-BHC was detected in the November 2003 samples.

Turbidity data were collected from the upper and lower Niagara River, tributaries to the river, and the Lewiston Reservoir between May and October 2003 (Figure 4.1.4-2) (URS and Gomez and Sullivan 2005).  Data are summarized for the seven turbidity stations from the river and reservoir (Table 4.1.4-1).

4.1.5        Lewiston Reservoir Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Studies (1982/83)

Water quality surveys were conducted in the Lewiston Reservoir in November 1982 and June/July 1983 for physical and chemical properties, including temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, transparency, alkalinity, hardness, nutrients, suspended sediments, turbidity, chlorophyll, and coliform (Ecological Analysts 1984b).  Only the suspended sediment and turbidity values are relevant for this study.  The water was not analyzed for heavy metals and organic compounds.

4.1.6        Other Water Quality Surveys along the Niagara River

Aside from these studies, there are no regular monitoring programs (Bill Andrews, NYSDEC, pers. comm., 9/29/03; Don Williams, EC, pers. comm., 9/29/03).  Also, USACE does not conduct any monitoring (David Melfy, USACE, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, pers. comm., 9/29/03).  Additional data may be available through more sporadic agency programs or through universities, but were not located.  However, none of these programs are likely to be as comprehensive or relevant as the programs discussed above.

4.2         Water Quality Standards

Water quality data of this study were compared to NYSDEC standards for survival and propagation of aquatic life (chronic and acute) and standards for the protection of human health from the consumption of fish (NYSDEC 1999b).  The water classification assigned to the Niagara River is Class A-Special.  Class A-Special waters are used as a source of drinking water and food preparation, primary and secondary contact recreation, and fishing.  Class A-Special waters shall also allow for the propagation and survival of fish.

4.3         Data Evaluation

4.3.1        Organic Compounds and Metals

None of the organic compounds and metals measured by EC and NYSDEC in the Niagara River since 1997 exceeded the NYSDEC water quality standards for aquatic life with the exception of iron in the EC data set (Tables 4.1.1-3 and 4.1.2-1).  However, several organic compounds exceeded the NYSDEC criteria for the protection of human health from consumption of fish (there are no criteria for metals).  These compounds were hexachlorobenzene, octachlorostyrene, DDT and metabolites, mirex, chlordane, dieldrin, and PCB.

Heavy metals and organic compound concentrations measured by URS et al. (2005b) on October 7 and 9, 2003, in the Lewiston Reservoir and at the NYPA intake in the Niagara River were not detected with the exception of monomethyl mercury and the pesticide delta-BHC.  The detection limits for most of the parameters were lower than the NYSDEC water quality standards for aquatic health (acute and chronic) and human health (fish consumption).  The detection limits for the following compounds were above the NYSDEC standards, although none of them were detected in the surface water samples:  hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorobutadiene, hexachlorocyclopentadiene, hexachloroethane, pentachlorophenol, DDD, DDE, DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, methoxychlor, toxaphene, and PCBs. 

In general, the water quality in the Lewiston Reservoir is similar to the water quality in the upper Niagara River near the intake for the following reasons:

Turnover Rate:  The turnover rate of the water in the reservoir is high (see Section 1.2).

Contaminant Sources:  Niagara River water is the principal source of contaminants in the water column.  Resuspension of bottom sediments in the reservoir is considered a limited source (see Section 5.0).

Transport:  Lack of settling of sediments in the conduits between the river and the reservoir due to high flow velocities.

4.3.2        Turbidity and Suspended Matter

In the upper Niagara River, just downstream from Lake Erie (Station TUNR-03), the turbidity ranged from 1.3 to 16.4 NTU with a mean of 4.1 NTU in the monitoring period between May and October 2003 (Table 4.1.4-1; Figure 4.3.2-1).  Near the NYPA intake (Station TUNR-02), the turbidity range in the Niagara River was similar (1.2 to 16.1 NTU) to the upstream station, but the mean was higher (5.2 NTU).  The higher mean value was likely caused by suspended sediment contributions from tributaries that discharge into the Niagara River.  These tributaries had turbidity values that often exceeded 10 NTU during the same survey period (URS and Gomez and Sullivan 2005).

The turbidity in the Lewiston Reservoir ranged from 1.5 to 7.1 NTU with a mean of 2.6 NTU in the monitoring period between May 30 and October 16, 2003 (Table 4.1.4-1; Figure 4.3.2-1).  The mean turbidity was substantially lower than the mean turbidity measured in the Niagara River at the intake.  The lower turbidity in the reservoir could be a result of natural variability, or partial settling of the suspended matter in the reservoir. 

Turbidity and suspended sediment data for the Lewiston Reservoir are also available from the water quality survey in 1982/83 (Ecological Analysts 1984b).  The turbidity ranged from 1 to 6 NTU, with the exception of one sample reaching 15 NTU; the mean turbidity was 2.6 NTU.  The suspended sediment concentrations ranged from 1 to 8 mg/l, with the exception of one sample reaching 31 mg/l; the mean concentration was 3.8 mg/l.

Particulate matter concentrations in the Niagara River are typically highest during the late fall and winter months, as shown in the data from EC from 1997 to 1999 (Figure 4.3.2-2).  This variability is a result of high winds stirring up Lake Erie sediments, heavy rainfall, and/or runoff from melting snow during this period.  The mean suspended particulate matter concentration (equivalent to ‘total suspended matter’) was 3.9 mg/l in the upper Niagara River at the Fort Erie station, and 6.8 mg/l in the lower Niagara River at the Niagara-on-the-Lake station.  During the peak months from October to February, the suspended particulate matter concentrations reached a maximum of 73 mg/l.

4.4         Water Quality – Discussion

The Lewiston Reservoir was built by surrounding a large area of land with a dike.  It therefore represents a high point in the local water table and is a source of groundwater.  Groundwater is not seeping into the reservoir (URS et al. 2005b).  In addition, the reservoir does not have a watershed with the exception of the minor slope of the dike.  None of the area outside of the reservoir drains into the reservoir.  Therefore, the principal source of water is the Niagara River water that is pumped into the Lewiston Reservoir.

Contaminants enter the Niagara River from Lake Erie, which is shown in the water quality data at the Fort Erie station.  In addition, the comparison between the water quality monitoring data between the Fort Erie station and the Niagara-on-the-Lake station shows that contaminants are added to the water from various sources along the river.  This contribution is reflected in the ratio between the lower and upper Niagara River concentrations for specific contaminants (Table 4.1.1-3).

There are numerous industrial facilities along the upper Niagara River, which have historically contributed to the impaired water quality in the river through effluent discharges.  Other sources of pollution include municipal point sources, as well as non-point source runoff from urban, industrial, and hazardous waste areas.  Further, the Buffalo River discharges into Lake Erie close to the headwaters of the Niagara River.  NRTC (1984) and IJC (2002) describe details of the various historic discharges.

Contaminants that are added along the river include various benzenes, mirex, hexachlorobutadiene, and several other organic compounds.  The contribution of metals from sources along the river appears to be comparatively small.  Contribution of organic compounds from sources along the river was also observed by El-Shaarawi et al. (1985) and Warry and Chan (1981), who stated that contaminants such as PCBs, mirex, and p,p’-DDT in suspended sediment in the river originate primarily from sources between Grand Island and Niagara-on-the Lake.

The concentrations and loads of many organic compounds in the water of the Niagara River have decreased over the past decades, due to considerable efforts from many agencies and organizations (e.g., Niagara River Secretariat 1999; IJC 2002).  The rates of decline vary for individual parameters (see Appendix C for details).  Metals concentrations have decreased for cadmium, lead, nickel, and zinc.  The decrease in contaminant loading in the river was also observed in 1995 in sediment deposited in Lake Ontario around the mouth of the river; concentrations of 2,3,7,8 TCDD, hexachlorobenzene, benzo(a)pyrene, and mirex were lower by up to several orders of magnitude in recent deposits near the surface as compared to deeper deposits from the 1960s (Niagara River Secretariat 1999).  These data suggest that “the suspended sediment flowing through the Niagara River are becoming cleaner and cleaner” (p. 3, Niagara River Secretariat 1999).  On the other hand, Williams and O’Shea (2003) states that the loads of priority toxics (particularly PAHs) from Lake Erie may again be increasing, based on the yet unpublished EC water quality data from 1999 to 2001.

Fine-grained suspended sediment in the Niagara River remains largely in suspension due to the high current velocity.  Much of the bottom sediment in the river consists of sand and gravel (Mudroch and Williams 1989).  Fine-grained bottom sediments occur in a few areas in the lower Niagara River, in nearshore areas and in tributaries.  The supply of suspended sediments is substantially higher during the late fall and winter months than during the summer months as a result of high winds, heavy rainfall, and/or runoff from melting snow (Kuntz and Tsanis 1993; Figure 4.3.2-2).

 

Table 4.1.1-1

Practical Detection Limits for Water Quality Data from Niagara River, Environment Canada

 

 

Phase

Priority Pollutant

Dissolved

(ng/l)

Particulate (ng/g)

Organic Compounds

 

 

 

 

1,2-Dichlorobenzene

 

0.58

11.40

 

1,3-Dichlorobenzene

 

0.30

11.30

 

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

 

0.51

10.40

 

1,3,5-Trichlorobenzene

 

0.02

1.20

 

1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene

 

0.24

2.50

 

1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene

 

0.09

1.30