Comparison of Austin-Area Stream Sediments to Sediment Quality Guidelines




Herrington, Chris

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City of Austin Watershed Protection and Development Review Department


Existing sediment data collected by local, state, and federal agencies from the stream beds and spring pools of the Austin area were compared to human-exposure and environmental toxicity criteria in order to identify the source and location of potential threats to human and ecosystem health. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) parameters were found to be in excess of sediment quality guidelines more frequently, and also were more spatially widespread than any other parameter type assessed. The majority (96%) of parameters evaluated for human health toxicity were below Protective Concentration Limits (PCLs), although data for PAHs, metals, and pesticides were found in Austin-area sediments at levels indicating potential ecosystem toxicity. Applicability of the PCL levels to Austin-area streams is questionable, since a complete exposure pathway may not exist, thus making the use of the PCL criteria an extremely conservative measure of potential adverse human health effects from stream sediments.


This report contains a comparison of sediment content between many Austin creeks.

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