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Development of a Copper Criteria Adjustment Procedure for Michigan's Upper Peninsula Waters

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Results of laboratory tests and water quality monitoring revealed that elevated copper concentrations in several Upper Peninsula (U.P.), Michigan streams were not associated with toxic effects or adverse impacts on resident aquatic macroinvertebrate or fish communities. These results suggest that Michigan's current copper standard may be overprotective for streams and rivers in the U.P., and perhaps in other State waters as well. This research program was designed to develop a copper criteria adjustment procedure for U.P. waters using a scientifically defensible approach that accounts for site-specific conditions. The program goal was to identify water quality parameters that mitigate copper toxicity and employ them in the derivation of site-specific copper criteria for U.P. waters. Recent research indicates that dissolved organic carbon may influence copper toxicity more than water hardness. Therefore, we selected U.P. rivers and streams with a wide range of water hardness (range: 15 - 213 mg/L CaCO3) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) (range: <1 – 30 mg/L). Water was collected from 18 sites in 17 different waterbodies (15 rivers and streams; two lakes) for chemical analysis and water-effect ratio (WER) determination using 48 h static exposures to Ceriodaphnia dubia. A smaller subset of the 18 original sites spanning the full range of water hardness and DOC concentration in the U.P. were sampled seasonally to examine temporal influence on WERs. The data indicate that: i) a single standard for copper in the U.P. is not appropriate; ii) copper toxicity in U.P. waters is poorly correlated with water hardness (also alkalinity and pH); and iii) copper toxicity in U.P. waters is highly dependent on DOC concentration. Modification of Michigan's copper standard at any given U.P. site appears to be best achieved by linear graphic interpolation of the WER from measured DOC concentrations.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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