Date of Graduation

Fall 12-12-2014

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Environmental Management

First Advisor

Maggie Winslow, Ph.D.

Abstract

Historical hydraulic mining activities in the Yuba River watershed have impacted the watershed and the San Francisco Bay. The research evaluates pathways for mercury entry into the watershed and potential remediation technologies to reduce the risk of future mercury contamination from hydraulic mining debris. Remediation technologies for the Yuba Goldfields and Englebright Reservoir are discussed and compared separately. The major pathway for mercury entry into surface water along Yuba Goldfields is within suspended sediment mobilized during flooding conditions. While multiple remediation options are available for the Yuba Goldfields, phytostabilization is the least costly and has the fewest environmental impacts. A non-profit organization is currently working on a restoration project attempting to increase vegetation cover in areas with hydraulic mining debris, creating the potential for synergy in remediation and restoration goals and effort. A phytostabilization pilot study is recommended along the Yuba Goldfields as well as additional characterization of mining debris deposited within the Yuba Goldfields. The major pathway for mercury entry into surface water along Englebright Reservoir is from methylation of mercury in shallow sediments and subsequent movement of methyl mercury into the surface water. Within the Englebright Reservoir, aqueous capping is currently the most promising technology that allows mercury contaminated sediments to remain in place while removing ability for mercury to methylate. An aqueous capping pilot study within Englebright Reservoir and additional characterization of sediments within the reservoir are recommended.

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