Probabilistic Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) Incorporating Geochemical Speciation to Determine Bioavailable Metals in Freshwaters Affected by Acid Rock Drainage (ARD).
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 2000
A computer code for ecological risk assessment (ERA), AQUARISK, has been developed and applied to evaluate the likelihood of biotic detriment due to exposure to acid rock drainage (ARD) from the Burkunga mine site in Australia Stream water quality monitoring data were used for the assessment and were compared with a) national water quality guidelines, b) literature derived ecotoxicology data and c) biological monitoring data. With bioavailability calculations, the code predicted that, for metals exceeding the guidelines, 44% of macroinvertebrate species above the mine and 100% below the mine would be adversely affected by the metals in the stream. This compares reasonably and conservatively with biological monitoring that showed observed reductions of 41% and 85% of species respectively at each site. Using literature data for macroinvertebrates to predict impact produced similar estimates to using data for all taxa. Use of speciation modeling also lessened the degree of reduction in the median water metal concentrations required to achieve acceptable impact (measured either by exceedence of criteria or by species likely to be affected) by a factor of 75%. This result implies significant economic and management benefits in relation to remedial engineering or water treatment options for sites.