The effect of copper mine drainage on the Benthic macroinvertebrate communities in a central Vermont river

Burke, Nancy
Paul M. Kotila
Department of Environmental Studies
An aquatic biomonitoring study was conducted on the Ompompanoosuc River in central Vermont that has historically received acid mine drainage from large tailing piles. Kick net samples were collected monthly at five locations along the river from June 1998 to September 1998. The data were analyzed using five metrics that have been shown to be effective at determining effects of toxic, heavy metals: relative abundance, total taxa richness, EPT richness, percent dominant taxa and percent model affinity. Water quality parameters measured included pH, conductivity, temperature and dissolved oxygen. The results indicate that the portion of the river below the mine is severely degraded as judged by an analysis of the benthic macroinvertebrate communities and that the recovery of normal benthic communities does not begin to occur until the main branch of the river. The data were collected prior to implementing mine remediation procedures aimed at improving water quality along this river. The data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the mine remediation on improving the biological integrity of the river.

Read Full Text