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Missouri Ecological Services Analyzes Potential Impact of Highway Resurfacing Project on Tumbling Creek Cave Snail
Midwest Region, September 7, 2007
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The first step before adding tar-like substance. FWS Photo
The first step before adding tar-like substance. FWS Photo - Photo Credit: n/a
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In coordination with several state agencies, Fish and Wildlife Biologist Paul McKenzie initiated a study to determine if hydrocarbons from a highway resurfacing project in Taney County, Missouri had the potential to reach Tumbling Creek Cave due to rainfall runoff. Highway resurfacing involves the use of a mixture of stone chips and an emulsion that contains petroleum hydrocarbons, which can be harmful to aquatic organisms in certain situations. 

 

In Feb. 2006, the Missouri Department of Transportation planned a resurfacing project on U.S. Rt. 160 that included a section within the recharge zone of the Tumbling Creek cavesnail. A study plan was coordinated between Missouri Ecological Services, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, and the Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL) to determine if the hydrocarbons could reach Tumbling Creek cave if a rain event occurred following resurfacing activities. In addition to assessing the potential runoff of petroleum hydrocarbons, a separate analysis was proposed to calculate migration time of rain water to Tumbling Creek Cave. The OUL performed the study by establishing collection points to catch samples down slope of the resurfacing project and by using dye tracing to determine if runoff reached Tumbling Creek cave.  Samples were taken following a major rain event that occurred one week following the completion of the resurfacing project. 

 

No hydrocarbons were detected in collection samples and the dye tracing results indicated that it took between 53 and 59 hours for runoff from rain following resurfacing activities to travel approximately 3-3.5 miles to Tumbling Creek Cave.  Water from rain run off had a mean travel rate of approximately 318 feet per hour.

 

The results provide evidence that an emulsion containing potentially harmful petroleum hydrocarbons associated with highway resurfacing activities does not migrate far from the road application site.  The results will be extremely useful in analyzing the potential impact of highway resurfacing projects on other aquatic federally listed or candidate species in Missouri.  The calculated mean travel rate of rain runoff to Tumbling Creek Cave, however, illustrates that some highway activities, spills, and leaks could have significant potential to adversely and rapidly impact the water quality of different streams.

 

Partners: the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, and the Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL).


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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