Surface Water: After three rounds of sampling (completed in 2009 and 2010) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia general water quality safe for swimming. Further, surface water concentrations for all metals (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, and zinc); and organics (e.g., PCBs, dioxins/furans and pesticides) are within limits protective of aquatic life. The RI/FS only looked at contaminants, not at bacteria; therefore, it is good practice not to drink water from the Columbia River without treating it first, as it may contain Giardia (which causes beaver fever).

Beach Sampling: Of the 43 beaches sampled since 2005, all but three are considered safe for recreational use. The exceptions are recreational locations upstream of Kettle Falls known as Bossburg Flats beach due to high lead levels; Evans Campground because of lead levels; and the “Swimming Hole” near Sheep Creek because of arsenic levels. As reported in EPA’s April, 2012 Beach Fact Sheet, “Because the screening levels for lead and arsenic are set very low, even the ‘Swimming Hole’ near Sheep Creek and the beach at Evans Campground are not likely to present significant risks to visitors who swim and play in these areas.” Copies of EPA’s fact sheet can be accessed online here.

Lead concentrations at Bossburg Flat beach, however, have resulted in beach closure by the National Park Service and the need for additional information. The historic town of Bossburg included ferry operations to shuttle people, along with various goods and services, back and forth across the river, reportedly including mined ores from the district.

Bossburg Flats: A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is under final review to determine if historic ore milling discharge from the now cleaned up Young American Mine mill may have contributed contamination to the river, or possibly to the Bossburg Flat beach downstream. In the Bossburg and Evans Campground area, the current plan is to conduct sampling at several locations between Young American Mine and Evans Campground Beach. Sampling is planned for this spring when the lake level is drawn down.

Fish: The Washington Department of Health issued an updated fish advisory. Go to to view the advisory and public information materials.

Recreational Use Survey: A survey to assess where, when, what, how, and how long visitors utilize Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia River began in October 2010 and completed in 2012. Over 2300 survey interviews were completed, with results being used to inform key sections of the human health risk assessment. Go to to view the report.

Sediment Sampling: Building on sampling done in 2005, additional sediment sampling was conducted in the fall of 2013. Approximately 1,500 gallons of sediment were collected from 136 sites for chemistry analysis; 69 of these samples were selected for toxicity testing and sediment porewater chemistry. The scientific focus is to determine if there are unacceptable risks to benthic invertebrates (sediment dwelling bugs) associated with exposure to metals in sediments. Toxicity tests are on-going and upon completion, a draft data summary report will be submitted by Teck to EPA for review possibly in the summer of 2015.

Residential Soil Sampling: A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) was written by EPA to conduct soil sampling at residences north of Northport and in the Columbia River Valley to the Canadian border. The objective of this study is to generate data to help determine if there is unacceptable risk to people associated with exposure to smelter metals in soils. Sampling started in August and wrapped up in early October. See soil sampling article in this issue for more information.

Upland Soil Sampling: EPA has approved the Upland Soil Study Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) to gather information to help evaluate potential human health and ecological risks from exposure to metals in soils that may have been deposited from smelter emissions, windblown sediments and former flood plains on upland areas around the Upper Columbia River. Soil sampling began in September, 2014. See soil sampling article in this issue for more information.