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The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD), which operates and manages the largest inland surface water discharge to the San Francisco Bay-Delta, undertook a localized mercury bioaccumulation study. Monthly monitoring at five stations distributed upstream and downstream (plus effluent) tracked multiple media and constituents in the lowest dilution season (Fall 2006). Transplanted and resident clams and three small, naturally-occurring fish species of widespread abundance and high site-fidelity were also collected.

Results for clams and fish indicate +/−10% change in mercury bioaccumulation downstream of the SRCSD outfall. The study concluded that SRCSD's effluent does not create a “hot spot”. This study pioneers measurement of mercury bioaccumulation associated with a municipal wastewater discharge and quantifies the relative importance of sources of bioaccumulative pollutants to guide implementation of TMDLs. Quantifying localized effects informs considerations of whether to utilize equivalent compliance alternatives, like offsets, to achieve water quality objectives.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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