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Selenium and mercury in fish tissues from the Kootenai River, Montana and Idaho, September 2018

Metadata Updated: October 28, 2023

Working in cooperation with EPA, the USGS coordinated the collection of fish tissue for processing and analyses by the EPA Region 10 Manchester Environmental Laboratory located in Port Orchard, WA. This effort was being tied to existing operations work performed by state wildlife agencies in Idaho and Montana (Ross et al. 2018). Annually, in late August and September, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP), and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho conduct population surveys on the Kootenai River. During the 2018 electrofishing population surveys, state wildlife agency personnel also retained collected fish for this effort. The following were key design components of fish collection in the Kootenai River: (1) Fish were caught and analyzed for selenium and mercury in multiple tissues (filet, whole body, and/or egg/ovaries) as available to assess baseline contamination/bioaccumulation in fish species between Libby Dam and downstream of Bonners Ferry, ID. (2) Fish were caught from the mainstem Kootenai River in early September 2018 and analyzed for selenium and mercury from immediately downstream of Libby Dam (tailwater), downstream of Troy, MT, downstream of the ID/MT border, and in the proximity of Shorty’s Island downstream of Bonner’s Ferry. (3) The EPA Region 10 laboratory provided in-kind support for selenium and mercury analyses for the 142 fish samples collected. EPA Region 10 also provided data and sample management support via the Scribe Project Manager (RSCC). More details of the study design are given by USEPA and USGS (2018). Results: A total of 142 fish representing 13 species were retained for tissue analysis. Eggs were obtained from two species, kokanee salmon and mountain whitefish. In kokanee salmon, eggs were found in two fish from only site KR13 (Kootenai River below Libby Dam) and ranged from 4.17 to 5.01 mg/kg selenium as dry weight (dw). Eggs were found in mountain whitefish from all sites except the most downstream site sampled, KR4 (Kootenai River near Shorty’s Island). Selenium concentrations in mountain whitefish eggs ranged from 11.6 to 24.8 mg/kg (dw). An objective of the study was to compare selenium concentrations in fish and water to USEPA nationally recommended water quality criteria for selenium. The national criteria recommend that concentrations in fish eggs not exceed 15.1 mg/kg (dw), concentrations in whole-body of fish not exceed 8.5 mg/kg dry weight, or (b) concentrations in muscle tissue not exceed 11.3 mg/kg dry weight (USEPA 2016). For eggs, 6 of the 8 mountain whitefish egg samples exceeded EPA’s recommended value. No samples exceeded the whole-body criterion component of 8.5 mg/kg dry weight and no samples exceeded the muscle criterion component of 11.3 mg/kg dry weight. References: Ross, T.J., K. McDonnell, R. Hardy, and S. Stephenson. 2018. Kootenai River resident fish mitigation: white sturgeon, burbot, native salmonid monitoring and evaluation (Annual Progress Report May 1, 2016 — April 31, 2017). BPA Project # 1988-065-00, Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Report to the Bonneville Power Administration, Environment, Fish and Wildlife, Portland, OR. 118 pp. USEPA. 2016. Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criterion for Selenium – Freshwater 2016. 822-R-16-006, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 807 pp. [Accessed February 21, 2018]. USEPA and USGS. 2018. Kootenai River Fish Tissue Study Quality Assurance Project Plan. Prepared by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regions 8 and 10, and U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Water Science Center. 28 August 2018 (Revised 01 October 2018). 41 pp.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date October 28, 2023

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI EDI

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date October 28, 2023
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Identifier USGS:5d6d38efe4b0c4f70cf62b74
Data Last Modified 20200820
Category geospatial
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 010:12
Metadata Context
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Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id 414e571b-53f5-4f22-b4ed-ded34849e359
Harvest Source Id 52bfcc16-6e15-478f-809a-b1bc76f1aeda
Harvest Source Title DOI EDI
Metadata Type geospatial
Old Spatial -116.6061,48.3033,-115.0955,49.0
Publisher Hierarchy White House > U.S. Department of the Interior > U.S. Geological Survey
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash d0efd84693b6361550284a0d7e753330d5bcce2ea7558aa21af444761e28ed51
Source Schema Version 1.1
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