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The Viveash fire as seen from Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the afternoon of May 30, 2000. Special Water Quality Survey
of the Pecos and Gallinas Rivers below the Viveash and Manuelitas Fires - 2000

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Abstract

Subsequent to the 29,000 acre Viveash wildfire (See map, Figure 1), staff of the Surface Water Quality Bureau of the New Mexico Environment Department conducted water quality studies of the Pecos and Gallinas rivers downstream of the Viveash fire.  The Viveash fire did extensive damage to the Cow Creek watershed in the south central Sangre de Christo Mountains.  Large quantities of ash, sediment and debris entered the Pecos River from Cow Creek, potentially destabilizing the Pecos system.  The initial sampling run was conducted in response to citizen complaints of fish kills and black, ash-laden water.  Of particular concern was recently received information indicating that sodium ferrocyanide (Na4Fe(CN)6 ·10 H2O) (MSDS, 2001) may have been a constituent of the fire retardant slurry used to combat this fire (Little and Calfee, 2000).  Additional water samples were taken at selected locations below the Manuelitas fire, again in response to citizen complaints.  Sampling efforts were coordinated, to the extent possible, with runoff events from the watersheds of interest.

This report is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the data, but rather a brief review of the available information.  More detailed data sets will be developed in the course of the 2001 intensive water quality survey of these watersheds.

Introduction
Catastrophic wildfires have a devastating effect on aquatic ecosystems.  High concentrations of ash and sediment washing off the denuded, hydrophobic landscape effectively exterminate most, if not all, aquatic life.  The potential presence of cyanide (CN-) compounds in the runoff at the time of sampling was a matter of considerable concern.  Sodium ferrocyanide is added to fire retardants as an anticorrosive agent, counteracting effects of highly corrosive ammonium and phosphate compounds that are used as the actual fire suppressants (Little and Calfee, 2000).  Compared to many other cyanide compounds, sodium ferrocyanide is not particularly toxic (MSDS, 2001; Moore, 1990)  The CN- anions are complexed with the sodium/iron molecule and are not biologically available.  On exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, or extreme temperatures however, sodium ferrocyanide has been shown to release CN- ions leading to the formation of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) (Little and Calfee, 2000).  Aquatic organisms are especially susceptible to cyanide toxicity (Moore, 1990), and it is possible that any survivors of the ash flows and subsequent high sediment loadings succumbed to cyanide poisoning.

Abraham Franklin
WPS Manager
(505) 827-2793

ARTICLE QUICKLINKS
Bulleted item Special WQS Report - PDF
Bulleted item Figure 1 - Map, Viveash Fire Watersheds & BAER Burn Severity
Bulleted item Water Quality Standards
Bulleted item Methods
Bulleted item Water Quality Assessment
Bulleted item Conclusion
Bulleted item Figure 2:  Total Phos. vs Turbidity
Bulleted item Figure 3:  CN vs Turbidity
Bulleted item Figures 4-13: Photographs
Bulleted item Table 1.  CN Concentrations
Bulleted item Table 2.  Metal Concentrations
Bulleted item Table 3.  Radionuclide Concentrations
Bulleted item Table 4.  Water Chemistries
Bulleted item Units
Bulleted item Remark Codes
Bulleted item References
Bulleted item Additional Resources
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Bulleted item Viveash Fire Report - 2000

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The Viveash fire as seen from Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the afternoon of May 30, 2000.  The fire consumed 20,000 acres on that day.  Photo courtesy of Sarah A. Frazier.  Click to enlarge.

The Viveash Fire as seen from Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the afternoon of May 30, 2000.  The fire consumed 20,000 acres on that day.  Photo courtesy of Sarah A. Frazier.  Click here to enlarge.

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Due to limited resources, chemical analyses were restricted to reaches downstream of burned areas.  The Pecos River was sampled at a newly established station just upstream from Interstate 25, below the confluence with Cow Creek, which drains the southern end of the area burned by the Viveash fire.  Streamside measurements were taken at an existing station on the Pecos River above State Highway 63 bridge near the north end of the Village of Pecos.  Because of municipal water supply, irrigation and primary contact concerns on the Gallinas River, samples were drawn at several locations situated to define contamination levels at relevant locations in that watershed.  No above-impact comparison stations were established on the Gallinas River because the Viveash fire entered the watershed in its uppermost reaches.

In addition to sampling conducted in watersheds draining the Viveash burn area, samples were taken at three locations receiving runoff from areas affected by the smaller, but no less intense, Manuelitas fire.  The Manuelitas fire samples were obtained from two stock ponds and a spring in arroyos receiving runoff from the east flank of the burned area.  Both ponds had accumulated heavy deposits of ash.  On the initial visit (July 21, 2000), the upslope pond showed no evidence of life: there was no sign of insects, fish or amphibians.  Swallows, which are obligate insectivores, were conspicuously absent from the area.  The lower pond, in contrast, appeared to support a normal fauna.  The spring was selected for sampling because a dog belonging to a local resident had been found dead in the spring shortly after the fire.

Several accounts of livestock deaths were received after the Manuelitas fire.  Of these, only one producer is known to have invested in autopsies. The attending veterinarian determined that the mortalities were due to pulmonary edema attendant to smoke inhalation. (Ben Nelson, DVM, pers. com.).  Cyanide toxicity was not indicated by the findings of the autopsies.

Stations STORET Lat/Long
Pecos River above State Highway 63 UPR084 35.5872/-105.6739
Pecos River above I-25 -- 35.4027/-105.4756
Gallinas River at end of F.R.263 UPR212.002530 35.7236/-105.1083
Gallinas River at USGS gage HP34 35.6519/-105.3183
Gallinas River at Storrie diversion -- 35.6535/-105.2406
Ortiz pond 1 -- 35.7819/-105.2647
Ortiz pond 2 -- 35.7809/-105.2602
Ortiz spring -- 35.7832/-105.2634



Figure 1: Aerial extent and burn intensity of the Viveash fire. (Map courtesy of the Viveash BAER Team).

Figure 1:  Aerial extent and burn intensity of the Viveash fire.  (Map courtesy of the Viveash BAER Team).

Water Quality Standards

Applicable general standards for the protection of designated and attainable uses are set forth at 20.6.4.12 NMAC (10/12/2000). Segment-specific standards and designated uses are listed at 20.6.4.116 NMAC for the Pecos River above I-25. Designated uses for segment 2213 include irrigation, livestock watering, wildlife habitat, marginal coldwater fishery and secondary contact. Segment specific standards and designated uses are listed at 20.6.4.117 NMAC for the Pecos River above State Highway 63. Designated uses for segment 2214 include domestic water supply, fish culture, high quality cold water fishery, irrigation, livestock watering, wildlife habitat and secondary contact. Segment specific standards and designated uses are listed at 20.6.4.211 NMAC for the Gallinas River at the USGS gage near Montezuma and the Gallinas River at the end of Forest Road 263. Designated uses for segment 2212 include domestic water supply, high quality cold water fishery, irrigation, livestock watering, wildlife habitat, municipal and industrial water supply and secondary contact. Segment specific standards and designated uses are listed at 20.6.4.307 NMAC for the (reportedly) perennial Ortiz spring and other drainages in the area. Designated uses for segment 2305.3 include marginal coldwater fishery, warmwater fishery, secondary contact, irrigation, livestock watering and wildlife habitat. The State of New Mexico does not apply water quality standards to irrigation conveyances (Gallinas River at end of Storrie diversion). Numeric standards applicable to the attainable and designated uses assigned to the above segments are set forth at 20.6.4.900 NMAC.

Methods

Water quality sampling methods were in accordance with the Quality Assurance Project Plan for Water Quality Management Programs (NMED, 2000), except that some water chemistry analyses that would normally be performed on whole water were performed on filtered water due to the nature of the sample matrix. Where turbidity exceeded 1,000 NTUs, values were estimated by dilution.

Water Quality Assessment

Measurements were taken of dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, specific conductance and turbidity at most stations on all sampling runs. Stations downstream of burned areas were sampled for nutrients (nitrate (NO3), total ammonia (NH3), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), total phosphorus (TP) and total organic carbon (TOC)); twelve ionic constituents (including chemical oxygen demand (COD)), and 27 metals in both the total and dissolved fractions. Water and sediment samples were collected for cyanide analyses at most stations. One sediment sample was taken for metals analysis.

On the first sampling run to the Pecos River (June 21, 2000), the water was black and smelled distinctly of smoke. During subsequent sampling efforts water color had changed to dark brown and the odor of smoke was not as evident. With the exception of the sampling effort on August 7, turbidity, TSS, TDS, TP, TKN, sulfate and COD were greatly elevated (see Table 4) in the Pecos River above I-25. Phosphorus concentrations appear to be related to turbidity as a measure of suspended sediment loading (see Figure 2). The standard for TDS (250 mg/L) was exceeded on June 21, June 28 and July 13. The standard for sulfate (25 mg/L) was exceeded on June 21 and June 28. While several metals were seen at elevated concentrations in the total fraction, notably mercury (see Table 2), only aluminum (dissolved chronic (87 µg/L)) and mercury (total chronic (12 ng/L)) exceeded standards in the Pecos River above I-25. No other metals exceeded the chronic or acute standards at that station. There were no metals exceedences of any kind on the Gallinas River (see Table 2).

The presence of mercury at 400 ng/L (ppt) in the Pecos River samples is problematic. Mercury did not appear in ashy samples – mercury is a gas at 300ºC and would not be expected in samples containing high levels of ash. Once the ash had been replaced by a suspended solids load consisting primarily of mineral sediment however, mercury appeared in highly elevated concentrations. The source(s) of this mercury remains unexplained. Two theories have been put forth to account for these elevated levels of mercury; both remain entirely speculative. The first is that a substantial quantity of mercury was stored in one of the structures that was destroyed in the fire. The second is that mercury was drawn towards the soil surface by the heat of the fire, condensed there as the soil cooled and later washed out of the burned area as erosion cut deeper into the soil surface. Plans to try to isolate the source of this contaminant are being incorporated into the 2001 upper Pecos water quality study.

Cyanide was found in both water and sediment at the Pecos River above I-25 station (see Table 1), most of it probably bound to suspended sediments in water (see Figure 2). While some cyanide is produced naturally in wildfires (Yokelson,R. J., et al., 1997), it is most likely that the cyanide found in the course of this survey was derived from fire retardant slurry. The degree of toxicity attributable to the levels of CN- found in the Pecos River is difficult to determine. Free cyanide is acutely toxic to salmonids at concentrations ranging from 30 µg/L (ppb) to 160 µg/L, depending on species. Other species of freshwater fish are somewhat more tolerant (Moore, 1990). The above values were developed using free CN-; the cyanide used in fire retardants is strongly bound to the sodium/iron complex and is therefore minimally biologically available. Moreover, bioavailability is further reduced by adsorption to fine particulates (see Figure 2). Concentrations seen in water were potentially high enough to elicit toxic reactions in aquatic life, but actual levels of free CN- and HCN are not known. Observed levels were not high enough in water or sediment to produce toxicity in terrestrial organisms. It is unlikely that any aquatic life could have survived the exceedingly high concentrations of ash long enough to have succumbed to cyanide toxicity.

In an effort to provide comparison data to the Cerro Grande fire, samples were collected for radionuclides on two occasions (see Table 3). The initial sample (July 20, 2000) was a composite of Pecos and Gallinas river water. The second sample (August 7, 2000) was Pecos River water. No exceedences of radiological standards were found. In general, levels of radionuclides found below the Viveash fire were lower than those associated with the Cerro Grande fire (Ralph Ford-Schmid, NMED DOE Oversight Bureau, pers. com.).

Only one sampling run was conducted on the Gallinas River. On that day only one station (Gallinas R. at end of Forest Road 263) had ash deposits substantial enough to sample (see Figure 13). With the exception of trace amounts of cyanide (3.0 µg/L), no water quality parameters were found to be elevated. Despite finding the highest level of sediment cyanide (2,225 µg/kg) seen in the course of this investigation, the level of cyanide seen in whole water at the time of sampling was insufficient to kill aquatic organisms (see Table 1). Trout were observed feeding during the sampling effort, and a cursory examination of the benthic macroinvertebrate community revealed a diverse and healthy community structure. Water samples taken from the Gallinas River at the USGS gage near Montezuma and at the end of the Storrie diversion (CN- only) yielded no water quality standards exceedences.

In response to citizen complaints of water quality problems, two sampling runs were conducted below the 1,300 acre Manuelitas fire. Three reports of discolored well water were received by the SWQB. Only two complainants responded to NMED efforts to sample their wells (an effort mounted by staff of the Ground Water Bureau) and of those two, only the first had a functional well. The second well had been filled by sediments carried by runoff from the Manuelitas fire and no longer produced water. As stated above, the uppermost of a series of stock ponds appeared, on cursory inspection, to have been effectively sterilized. Bank-side ash deposits and aqueous cyanide levels indicate that conditions prior to the initial sampling effort were potentially antagonistic to the maintenance of aquatic life. The second pond in the series, while ringed with deposits of fine ash, showed no obvious signs of biologic impairment. Mosquitoes, chironomids (midges) and assorted odonates (dragon flies) were abundant, as were swallows. Frogs were heard calling. This pond is approximately 300 linear feet below the first, and the distinct difference between the two remains unexplained. It may be that the worst of the material from the initial flows washing off the burned area were trapped in the upper pond.

The owner of the property surrounding the two ponds reported that a dog belonging to one of his tenants had died unexpectedly and had been found in a spring rising in an arroyo draining the east face of the area affected by the Manuelitas fire. This spring, once clear and cold, was found to be yellow and turbid following the passage of several flash floods down the arroyo. A sample taken to test for cyanide showed no concentration of cyanide compounds at the time of sampling that could be considered dangerous to terrestrial vertebrates (see Table 1).

Conclusions

There are no tributaries involved in the Viveash fire between the Village of Pecos and Cow Creek. Fire-related inputs to the Pecos River must then have come from the Cow Creek drainage. Time and resource limitations allowed for only one visit to the Cow Creek watershed. During that visit (August 7, 2000) Cow Creek was found to have incised approximately two feet into the alluvium of the canyon floor (Figures 4 – 10). Extensive areas of recently exposed colluvial deposits were visible where the channel contacted the canyon wall. Many ephemeral tributary drainages had already begun to rejuvenate (head cut). No fish were observed during this visit. A cursory examination of the macro-benthic community indicated that benthic invertebrates had been completely extirpated. Deposits of ash and sediment were one to two meters deep in some low gradient areas below the burned area (see Figures 4, 6). It has been reported by staff of the Forestry Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department that by fall of 2000, Cow Creek had cut its channel another two to three feet deep (Charlie Wicklund, pers. com.). Future runoff events and monsoon storms will almost certainly exacerbate this situation. It is reasonable to assume that where the channel is eroding the canyon wall there will be significant episodes of mass wasting in the unsupported colluvium, accompanied by extensive rejuvenation of existing side drainages (See Figure 7).

The sediment moving through Cow Creek has the potential to produce significant impacts in the Pecos River, both in terms of water quality and hydrology. Inputs of large quantities of bed load to the Pecos River channel will likely force channel adjustments as the river re-establishes equilibrium between its discharge, channel morphology and increased bed load. While in a state of disequilibrium, the Pecos River channel will likely undergo a period of widening to accommodate flow through a shallower thalweg. This widening will generate a reduction in sinuosity, (a measure of channel length relative to valley length). A reduction in sinuosity will increase the slope of the channel relative to the slope of the valley floor, generating, to a greater or lesser degree, an episode of down cutting. Local increases in gradient will move both up- and down stream, traveling until they meet a grade control such as bedrock or a diversion dam.

As the Pecos River below the Village of Pecos is already in a state of adjustment (disequilibrium), as indicated by many eroding, vertical banks (see Figure 11), the effects of additional sediment loading may be intensified. Channel adjustments can result in significant losses of floodplain. Increases in mobile sediments can also have serious impacts on the irrigation infrastructure, damaging diversion works and filling conveyances with mud. It is conceivable that sediments mobilized during the period of re-adjustment will be of sufficient quantity to significantly reduce the storage capacity of Santa Rosa Reservoir.

The presence of relatively large quantities of mercury in Pecos River water poses an additional problem for Santa Rosa Reservoir and other impoundments downstream. Every major reservoir on the Pecos River mainstem is currently under a fish consumption advisory for mercury. The additional inputs of highly bio-accumulative mercury to these systems will most likely increase the levels of mercury in the tissues of fish in these reservoirs. The Surface Water Quality Bureau is developing plans to monitor fish tissue mercury concentrations and other contaminants in these reservoirs during the 2001 sampling season.

While there may be increases of turbidity in the Gallinas River due to the Viveash fire’s encroachment into the upper watershed, it appears at this time that the damage was insufficient to cause the type of extreme impacts observed in the Cow Creek watershed (see Figures 5, 6, 7, 10 and 13). Some ash was mobilized and traveled through Las Vegas, but the massive quantities of ash and sediment seen in Cow Creek were not evident. Careful monitoring is called for, however. Surveys conducted by the Viveash fire Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) team determined that, while nearly 800 acres of the Gallinas watershed were heavily damaged (Robbie et al., 2000), no drainages directly feeding the Gallinas River were seriously impacted.

There are no perennial tributaries impacted by the Manuelitas fire entering either Sapello or Manuelitas creeks. It is nevertheless likely that ash and sediment will continue to be entrained in runoff from the burned area for some time. The presence of stock ponds in most, if not all, of the arroyos draining the Manuelitas fire will serve to interdict much of the sediment before it can get to perennial waters.

Management of the aftermath of the Viveash and Manuelitas fires will fall primarily to staff of the Santa Fe National Forest. The Tierra y Montes Soil and Water Conservation District, the New Mexico State Forestry Division, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the City of Las Vegas, NM and numerous private landowners are also active in rehabilitation efforts. The timeframe for a return to an equilibrium condition in the Cow Creek and Pecos River systems depends, to a considerable degree, on the extent and success of rehabilitation efforts. The longer a state of disequilibrium exists, the greater the costs of damage to property and the environment will be. It is critical that responsible agencies provide the resources and direction necessary to stabilize these burned watersheds.

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Figure 2 - Comparison of Total Phosphorus vs Turbidity in Viveash Runoff, Summer 2000

Figure 3 - Comparison of CN vs Turbidity in Viveash Fire Runoff, Summer 2000

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Figure 4 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.Figure 4 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000. Figure 5 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.Figure 5 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.
Figure 6 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.Figure 6 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.

Figure 7 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000. Rejuvenation of a side drainage.
Figure 7 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000. Rejuvenation of a side drainage.

Figure 8 – Cow Creek in flood below Santa Fe National Forest.
Figure 8 – Cow Creek in flood below
Santa Fe National Forest.
Figure 9 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.
Figure 9 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.
Severe erosion of low gradient uplands.

Figure 10 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.
Figure 10 – Upper Cow Creek, June 2000.

Photos for Figures 4 - 10 (above) courtesy of Charlie Wicklund, New Mexico Div. Of Forestry

Figure 11– Pecos River, June 2000. View down stream. Note vertical bank in background.
Figure 11– Pecos River, June 2000. View down stream. Note vertical bank in background.

Photos for Figures 11 & 12 (lower left) courtesy of Dan Davis, NMED.

Figure 12 – Pecos River, June 2000. View upstream. Note ash bar at left.
Figure 12 – Pecos River, June 2000. View upstream. Note ash bar at left.

Figure 13 – Gallinas River, June 2000. Note ash bar behind log. The banks are not eroding and there is no sign of flooding.
Figure 13 – Gallinas River, June 2000. Note
ash bar behind log.  The banks are not eroding and there is no sign of flooding.
Photo for Figure 13 courtesy of John Tingle,
US Army Corps of Engineers.

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Table 1.

Cyanide Concentrations in the Pecos River Watershed following the Viveash fire, Summer, 2000

Sample ID

Sample Location

Medium

Date

Time

CN
Total
µg/L

CN
Amenable
µg/L

CN
WAD
µg/L

Turbidity
NTUs

TOC
mg/L

Pecos R. abv I-25

Water

06/21/2000

1230

24

24*

nd

2,300

14.3

Pecos R. abv I-25

Water

06/28/2000

1045

119

119*

nd

31,000

5K

Pecos R. abv I-25

Water

07/13/2000

1200

nd

nd

39*

4780

5K

Pecos R. abv I-25

Water

08/07/2000

1030

nd

nd

1

130

5K

Gallinas R. @ end FR 263

Water

07/20/2000

1150

nd

nd

3 6

76

5K

Gallinas R. @ USGS Gage, Montezuma

Water

07/20/2000

915

nd

nd

5K

10.8

6.67

Gallinas R. @ End of Storrie Diversion

Water

07/20/2000

1410

nd

nd

5K

15.8

nd

Ortiz Pond # 1 Water

Water

07/21/2000

930

nd

nd

6*

nd

nd

Ortiz Spring Water

Water

07/21/2000

1015

nd

nd

2

nd

nd

ng/g

Pecos R. abv I-25

Sediment

07/13/2000

1200

100

Pecos R. abv I-25

Sediment

08/07/2000

1030

737

Gallinas R. @ end FR 263

Sediment (ash)

07/20/2000

1150

2,250

Ortiz Pond # 1

Sediment (ash)

07/21/2000

930

880

Ortiz Pond # 2

Sediment

08/07/2000

1400

664

UV 01

Upper Viveash - Cow Creek

Sediment

08/10/2000

nd

1,730

UV 02

Upper Viveash - Cow Creek

Sediment

08/10/2000

nd

1,870

UV 03

Upper Viveash - Cow Creek

Sediment

08/10/2000

nd

1,330

UV 04

Upper Viveash - Cow Creek

Sediment

08/10/2000

nd

1600.00

UV 05

Upper Viveash - Tijeras Cr.

Sediment

08/10/2000

nd

1800.00

Remark Codes: K - less than C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done

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Table 2 Metals Concentrations in the Pecos River Watershed following the Viveash
fire, Summer, 2000
Pecos R. abv I-25
35.4027/-105.4756
35047 New Mexico San Miguel
NM-2203.A_00
Dissolved Metals
DATE
(2000)
TIME Medium 1106
Al
Diss
(µg/L)
1095
Sb
Diss
(µg/L)
1000
As
Diss
(µg/L)
1005
Ba
Diss
(µg/L)
1010
Be
Diss
(µg/L)
1020
Bo
Diss
(µg/L)
1025
Cd
Diss
(µg/L)
82036
Ca
Diss
(µg/L)
1030
Cr
Diss
(µg/L)
1035
Co
Diss
(µg/L)
1040
Cu
Diss
(µg/L)
1046
Fe
Diss
(µg/L)
1049
Pb
Diss
(µg/L)
06/21 1230 Water 110* 1K 3 100K 1K 100K 1K 56,000 1K 1K 10K 100K 1K
06/28 1045 Water 200* 1K 6 100 1K 100 1K 56,000 2 1K 50K 100 1K
07/13 1200 Water 80 1K 3 100K 1K 100K 1K 49,000 1K 1K 50K 100K 1K
08/07 1030 Water 70 1K 1K 100K 1K 100K 1K 44,000 1K 1K 10K 100K 1K
82037
Mg
Diss
(µg/L)
1056
Mn
Diss
(µg/L)
1060
Mo
Diss
(µg/L)
1065
Ni
Diss
(µg/L)
1145
Se
Diss
(µg/L)
1140
Si
Diss
(µg/L)
1075
Ag
Diss
(µg/L)
1080
Sr
Diss
(µg/L)
1057
Tl
Diss
(µg/L)
1100
Sn
Diss
(µg/L)
22703
U-nat
Diss
(µg/L)
1085
V
Diss
(µg/L)
1090
Zn
Diss
(µg/L)
06/21 1230 Water 6,000 95 2 10K 5K 3,900 1K 200 1K 100K 2 2 10K
06/28 1045 Water 8,000 310 4 10K 5K 4,300 1K 300 1K 100K 3 5K 100K
07/13 1200 Water 5,000 200 2 10K 5K 3,300 1K 200 1K 100K 3 3 10K
08/07 1030 Water 4,000 16 1K 10K 5K 3,500 1K 200 1K 100K 1 2 10K
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
Pecos R. abv I-25
35.4027/-105.4756
35047 New Mexico San Miguel
NM-2203.A_00
Total Metals
DATE
(2000)
TIME Medium 1105
Al
Total
(µg/L)
1097
Sb
Total
(µg/L)
1002
As
Total
(µg/L)
1007
Ba
Total
(µg/L)
1012
Be
Total
(µg/L)
1022
Bo
Total
(µg/L)
1027
Cd
Total
(µg/L)
82032
Ca
Total
(µg/L)
1034
Cr
Total
(µg/L)
1037
Co
Total
(µg/L)
1042
Cu
Total
(µg/L)
1045
Fe
Total
(µg/L)
1051
Pb
Total
(µg/L)
82033
Mg
Total
(µg/L)
06/21 1230 Water 47,000 5K 20 1,200 5K 100K 5K 150,000 60 32 100 47,000 120 18,000
06/28 1045 Water 200,00 5K 43 5,000 9 1000K 6 380,000 170 110 240 200,000 520 67,000
07/13 1200 Water 83,000 10K 10K 2,400 10K 1000K 10K 260,000 70 70 80 74,000 200 26,000
08/07 1030 Water 4,200 1K 2 100 1K 100K 1K 49,000 4 2 10K 4,000 7 5,000
1055
Mn
Total
(µg/L)
71900
Hg
Total
(µg/L)
1062
Mo
Total
(µg/L)
1067
Ni
Total
(µg/L)
1147
Se
Total
(µg/L)
1142
Si
Total
(µg/L)
1077
Ag
Total
(µg/L)
1082
Sr
Total
(µg/L)
1059
Tl
Total
(µg/L)
1102
Sn
Total
(µg/L)
28011
U
Total
(µg/L)
1087
V
Total
(µg/L)
1092
Zn
Total
(µg/L)
06/21 1230 Water 5,200 0.2K 5K 70 5K 62,000 5K 6000 5K 100K 5K 68 390
06/28 1045 Water 17,000 0.4* 5K 210 5K 78,000 5K 1,600 5K 100K 19 280 970
07/13 1200 Water 13,000 0.4* 10K 100 5K 90,000 10K 800 10K 100K 10K 100 700
08/07 1030 Water 260 nd 1K 10K 5K 11,000 1K 200 1K 100K 1 8 20
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
Pecos R. abv I-25
35.4027/-105.4756
35047 New Mexico San Miguel
NM-2203.A_00
Sediment Metals
DATE
(2000)
TIME Medium Al
Total
(µg/L)
Sb
Total
(µg/L)
As
Total
(µg/L)
Ba
Total
(µg/L)
Be
Total
(µg/L)
Bo
Total
(µg/L)
Cd
Total
(µg/L)
Ca
Total
(µg/L)
Cr
Total
(µg/L)
Co
Total
(µg/L)
Cu
Total
(µg/L)
Fe
Total
(µg/L)
Pb
Total
(µg/L)
Mg
Total
(µg/L)
07/13 1200 sediment 9,900 1K 1.7 120 0.5K 50K 0.5K 9,700 11 4.2 9 9,000 12 2,300
Mn
Total
(µg/L)
Hg
Total
(µg/L)
Mo
Total
(µg/L)
Ni
Total
(µg/L)
Se
Total
(µg/L)
Si
Total
(µg/L)
Ag
Total
(µg/L)
Sr
Total
(µg/L)
Tl
Total
(µg/L)
Sn
Total
(µg/L)
U
Total
(µg/L)
V
Total
(µg/L)
Zn
Total
(µg/L)
07/13 1200 sediment 470 0.04K 0.5K 9 0.3 100 0.5K 26 0.5K 5K 0.9K 14 37
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
UPR212.002530
Gallinas R. @ End FR 263
35.7236/-105.1083
35047 New Mexico San Miguel
NM-2213_00
Dissolved Metals
DATE
(2000)
TIME Medium 1106
Al
Total
(µg/L)
1095
Sb
Total
(µg/L)
1000
As
Total
(µg/L)
1005
Ba
Total
(µg/L)
1010
Be
Total
(µg/L)
1020
Bo
Total
(µg/L)
1025
Cd
Total
(µg/L)
82036
Ca
Total
(µg/L)
1030
Cr
Total
(µg/L)
1035
Co
Total
(µg/L)
1040
Cu
Total
(µg/L)
1046
Fe
Total
(µg/L)
1049
Pb
Total
(µg/L)
07/20 1150 Water 30 1K 1K 100K 1K 100K 1K 32,000 1K 1K 50K 100K 1K
82037
Mg
Total
(µg/L)
1056
Mn
Total
(µg/L)
1060
Mo
Total
(µg/L)
1065
Ni
Total
(µg/L)
1145
Se
Total
(µg/L)
1140
Si
Total
(µg/L)
1075
Ag
Total
(µg/L)
1080
Sr
Total
(µg/L)
1057
Tl
Total
(µg/L)
1100
Sn
Total
(µg/L)
22703
U-nat
Total
(µg/L)
1085
V
Total
(µg/L)
1090
Zn
Total
(µg/L)
07/20 1150 Water 2,000 70 1 10K 5K 4,900 1K 100K 1K 100K 1K 1K 10K
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
UPR212.002530
Gallinas R. @ End FR 263
35.7236/-105.1083
35047 New Mexico San Miguel
NM-2213_00
Total Metals
DATE
(2000)
TIME Medium 1105
Al
Total
(µg/L)
1097
Sb
Total
(µg/L)
1002
As
Total
(µg/L)
1007
Ba
Total
(µg/L)
1012
Be
Total
(µg/L)
1022
Bo
Total
(µg/L)
1027
Cd
Total
(µg/L)
82032
Ca
Total
(µg/L)
1034
Cr
Total
(µg/L)
1037
Co
Total
(µg/L)
1042
Cu
Total
(µg/L)
1045
Fe
Total
(µg/L)
1051
Pb
Total
(µg/L)
82033
Mg
Total
(µg/L)
07/20 1150 Water 380 1K 5K 100K 1K 100K 1K 31,000 2 1K 50K 300 4 3,000
1055
Mn
Total
(µg/L)
71900
Hg
Total
(µg/L)
1062
Mo
Total
(µg/L)
1067
Ni
Total
(µg/L)
1147
Se
Total
(µg/L)
1142
Si
Total
(µg/L)
1077
Ag
Total
(µg/L)
1082
Sr
Total
(µg/L)
1059
Tl
Total
(µg/L)
1102
Sn
Total
(µg/L)
28011
U-nat
Total
(µg/L)
1087
V
Total
(µg/L)
1092
Zn
Total
(µg/L)
07/20 1150 Water 120 0.2K 1 10K 5K 5,500 1K 100K 1K 100K 1K 5K 10K
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
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Table 3 Radionuclide Concentrations in the Pecos and Gallinas watersheds following the Viveash fire, Summer, 2000
Station Date
(2000)
Time Medium --
G-Alpha
Am-241
pCi/L
--
Sigma
80029
G-Alpha
U-nat
pCi/L
1502
Sigma
--
G-Beta
Cs-137
pCi/L
--
Sigma
80049
G-beta
Sr/Y-90
pCi/L
3502
Sigma
Viveash Composite 07/20 NA Water 2 0.6 2.5 0.7 7.3 1 7.1 0.9
Pecos abv I-25 08/07 1030 Water 5.2 0.8 6.6 1.1 9.4 1 9.1 1
22606
U-234
Alpha Spec.
pCi/L
22607
Sigma
22601
U-238
Alpha Spec.
pCi/L
22602
Sigma
22012
Pu-238
Alpha Spec.
pCi/L
22013
Sigma
--
Pu-239+240
Alpha Spec.
pCi/L
--
Sigma
Viveash Composite 07/20 NA Water 0.78 0.06 0.42 0.04 -0.01 0.01 -0.04 0.02
Pecos abv I-25 08/07 1030 Water 1.12 0.08 0.54 0.04 0 0.01 -0.04 0.02
9501
Ra-226
total
pCi/L
9502
Sigma
11501
Ra-228
total
pCi/L
11502
Sigma
11503
Ra 226+228
total
pCi/L
11504
Sigma
11504
Ra 226+228
error
--
Am-241
Alpha Spec.
pCi/L
--
Sigma
Viveash Composite N/A 0.18 0.04 1.2 0.3 1.38 0.34 0.03 0 0.03
Pecos abv I-25 1030 0.28 0.02 0.65 0.15 0.93 0.17 0.15 0.08 0.03
--
K-40
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Co-60
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Zn-65
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Cs-134
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Cs-137
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Mn-54
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Sb-125
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Eu-152
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
Viveash Composite 07/20 NA Water 4.6K 3.9K 8K 3.2K 3.6K 3.8K 10K 6.6
Pecos abv I-25 08/07 1030 Water 56K 3.8K 7.8K 3.5K 3.9K 3.5K 9.3K 6.6K
--
Eu-154
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Th-234
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Pb-214
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Bi-214
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Pb-210
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Ac-228
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Pb-212
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Bi-212
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
--
Tl-208
Gamma
Spec.
pC/L
Viveash Composite 07/20 NA Water 4.6K 44K 7.8K 7.6K 60K 15K 6.6 52K 3.8K
Pecos abv I-25 08/07 1030 Water 4.7K 45K 7.7K 7.9K 59K 15K 6.5K 51K 3.8K
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
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Table 4 Water Chemistries in the Pecos and Gallinas Watersheds following the Viveash Fire, 2000
STATION DATE
2000)
TIME Medium 10
Water
Temp
(C)
95
Spec
Cond
(uhmo)
300
DO

(mg/L)

400
pH
Field
(S.U.)
82079
Turb
Field
(NTU)
665
Total
P
(mg/L)
630
Nitrate+ite
N
(mg/L)
610
Total
NH3
(mg/L)
640
T I N
630+610
(mg/L)
625
Kjeldahl
N
(mg/L)
605
T O N
625-610
(mg/L)
600
Total N
640+605
(mg/L)
680
Total
Org C
(mg/L)
Pecos R. abv I-25 6/21 1230 Water 21 315 6.48 8.10 2300 6.06 0.1K 0.1K 0.2KC 12.5 12.4LC 12.6KC 14.3
Pecos R. abv SR 63 6/21 1330 Water 20.5 205 7.20 8.26 2.17
Pecos R. abv I-25 6/28 1045 Water 18.8 336 5.28 7.66 31560 33 0.127 0.693 0.82C 102 101.31C 102.13C 5K
Pecos R. abv SR 63 6/28 1130 Water 18.7 221.5 7 8.17 8.27
Pecos R. abv I-25 7/13 1045 Water 18.7 255.6 7.86 6.9 4780 14.4 0.1K 0.268 0.368KC 49.2 48.93C 49.3KC 5K
Pecos R. abv SR 63 7/13 1200 Water 18.1 192 8.77 7.39 1.26
Pecos R. abv I-25 8/7 1030 Water 20.3 243.3 7.27 8.00 130 0.163 0.1K 0.1K 0.2KC 0.206 0.106LC 0.306KC 5K
Gallinas @ Gage 7/20 0915 Water 14.2 190 8.42 8.24 10.8 0.05K 0.1K 0.1K 0.2KC 0.3 0.2LC 0.2KC 5.29
Gallinas @ FR 263 7/20 1150 Water 12.4 176.8 7.88 8.31 6.76 0.2 0.1K 0.1K 0.2KC 0.4 0.3LC 0.5KC 5K
STATION DATE
(2000)
TIME 70300
TDS

(mg/L)

530
TSS

(mg/L)

900
Total
Hardness
(mg/L)
915
Ca

(mg/L)

925
Mg

(mg/L)

935
K

(mg/L)

930
Na

(mg/L)

410
Alk

(mg/L)

440
Bicarb

(mg/L)

445
CO3

(mg/L)

940
Chloride

(mg/L)

946
Sulfate

(mg/L)

COD

(mg/L)

Pecos R. abv I-25 6/21 1230 Water 286* 1470 164 56.3 5.76 5K 5K 318 388 0 10K 26.4* 98
Pecos R. abv SR 63 6/21 1330 Water
Pecos R. abv I-25 6/28 1045 Water 356* 5090 193 62.7 8.86 10.2 5K 402 491 0 10K 32* 76.6
Pecos R. abv SR 63 6/28 1130 Water
Pecos R. abv I-25 7/13 1045 Water 352* 7310 175 60.5 5.73 6.98 5K 565 689 0 10K 15.8 49
Pecos R. abv SR 63 7/13 1200 Water
Pecos R. abv I-25 8/7 1030 Water 202 107 128 44.5 4 5K 5K 122 147 1.92 10K 13.5 5K
Gallinas @ Gage 7/20 0915 Water 172 8 96.4 33.8 2.95 5K 5K 84.2 101 1.44 10K 10K
Gallinas @ FR 263 7/20 1150 Water 164 15 90.1 31.6 2.71 5K 5K 76.6 93.5 0 10K 10.8
Remark Codes: K - less than; C - calculated; * - water quality standards exceedance; nd - no data / not done
Horizontal Line - Divider

UNITS

mg/L milligrams per liter parts per million (ppm)
µg/L micrograms per liter parts per billion (ppb)
ng/L nanograms per liter parts per trillion (ppt)
mg/g milligrams per gram parts per million (ppm)
ng/g nanograms per gram parts per billion (ppb)
pC/L picoCuries per liter 2.22 disintegrations per minute
Horizontal Line - Divider

REMARK CODES

Remark codes are Legacy STORET or SWQB data qualifiers.
K – less than
L – greater than
J – estimated
Q – exceeded holding time
*- standards exceedence
nd – no data

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REFERENCES

Little, E. E. and Robin D. Calfee, US Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research
Center, Columbia, MO, 2000.The Effects of UVB Radiation on the Toxicity of Fire-
Fighting Chemicals, Final Report.
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/aviation/retardant/USGS_report.htm
Moore, J. W., 1990. Inorganic Contaminants of Surface Water, Research and Monitoring
Priorities. Springer-Verlag. 334 pp.
Material Safety Data Sheet, 1/22/2001.
New Mexico Environment Department, 2000. Quality Assurance Project Plan for Water
Quality Management Programs.
New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission, 2/23/2000. Standards for Interstate and
Intrastate Surface Waters, 20.6.4 NMAC.
Robbie, W. et al., 2000. Viveash Fire Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation Report
(BAER).  USDA Forest Service, Santa Fe National Forest, Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District.
Rosgen, D. and Hilton Lee Silvey, 1996. Applied River Morphology, Wildland Hydrology,
Pagosa Springs, CO.
Yokelson, R. J., et al., 1997. Trace Gas Emissions from Specific Biomass Fire-types. Paper
Delivered at: START Synthesis Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Emission, Aerosols and Land Use and Cover Change in Southeast Asia, November 15 – 18,1997, Taipei, Taiwan.
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Additional Resources (PDF)

Bulleted Item... SWQB Online Resources
Bulleted Item...

Clearing the Waters, Fall 2012 issue article, "Wildfire and Water Quality in New Mexico"

Bulleted Item...

Special Water Quality Survey of the Pecos and Gallinas Rivers Below the Viveash and Manuelitas Fires - 2000; February 2001

Bulleted Item...

SWQB Mapper - View Active Fire Perimeters

Bulleted Item... Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
1. New Mexico Viveash Fire (FM-2304)
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For more information, please contact SWQB's Watershed Protection Section's Manager Abraham Franklin, at the address or phone number provided above.

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