Document Details

Mercury on a landscape scale—Balancing regional export with wildlife health

Lisamarie Windham-Myers, Harry McQuillen, Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale, Jacob A. Fleck, Collin A. Eagles-Smith, Joshua T. Ackerman | June 26, 2018
Summary

The Cosumnes River watershed requires a 57–64 percent reduction in loads to meet the new Delta methylmercury (MeHg) total maximum daily load allocation, established by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Because there are no large point sources of MeHg in the watershed, the focus of MeHg load reductions will fall upon non-point sources, particularly the expansive wetlands considered to be a primary source of MeHg in the region. Few management practices have been implemented and tested in order to meet load reductions in managed wetlands, but recent efforts have shown promise. This project examines a treatment approach to reduce MeHg loads to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta by creating open-water deep cells with a small footprint at the downstream end of wetlands to promote net demethylation of MeHg and to minimize MeHg and Hg loads exiting wetlands at the Cosumnes River Preserve. Specifically, the deep cells were were located immediately up gradient of the wetland’s outflow weir and were deep enough (75–91 centimeter depth) to be vegetation-free. The topographic and hydrologic structure of each treatment wetland was modified to include open-water deep cells so that the removal of aqueous MeHg might be enhanced through (1) particle settling, (2) photo-degradation, and (3) benthic microbial demethylation. These deep cells were, therefore, expected to clean MeHg from surface water prior to its discharge to the Cosumnes River and the downstream Delta.

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Product Description

The Cosumnes River watershed requires a 57–64 percent reduction in loads to meet the new Delta methylmercury (MeHg) total maximum daily load allocation, established by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Because there are no large point sources of MeHg in the watershed, the focus of MeHg load reductions will fall upon non-point sources, particularly the expansive wetlands considered to be a primary source of MeHg in the region. Few management practices have been implemented and tested in order to meet load reductions in managed wetlands, but recent efforts have shown promise. This project examines a treatment approach to reduce MeHg loads to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta by creating open-water deep cells with a small footprint at the downstream end of wetlands to promote net demethylation of MeHg and to minimize MeHg and Hg loads exiting wetlands at the Cosumnes River Preserve. Specifically, the deep cells were were located immediately up gradient of the wetland’s outflow weir and were deep enough (75–91 centimeter depth) to be vegetation-free. The topographic and hydrologic structure of each treatment wetland was modified to include open-water deep cells so that the removal of aqueous MeHg might be enhanced through (1) particle settling, (2) photo-degradation, and (3) benthic microbial demethylation. These deep cells were, therefore, expected to clean MeHg from surface water prior to its discharge to the Cosumnes River and the downstream Delta.

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Keywords:

benthic macroinvertebrates, ecosystem management, mercury, pollutants, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, wetlands