Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Mercury Deposition in the Catskill Region of New York(ST6818-1)

USGS National Center MS270


Mercury cycling in drainage lake watershed systems involves the interaction of a variety of complex processes, including the natural processes taking place in lakes and their surrounding watersheds. Numerous lakes in New York State with no apparent point source of mercury have been found to contain fish with elevated mercury levels. Studies indicate that atmospheric deposition provides a significant portion of the mercury in these lakes. A major contributor to atmospheric deposition of mercury is coal combustion for the generation of electricity. The U.S. EPA recently determined that it will require reductions in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. New York State has also recently enacted regulations calling for mercury controls on electricity generating facilities.

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Project Description

Agreement 1618 was originally part of a greater effort, in association with Tetra Tech, Inc. through Agreement 4916. The original effort called for the establishment of the MDN sampler in the Catskills (site name “NY68), and operation of the sampler for one year. The mercury deposition monitoring was extended for an additional three years, through December 31, 2007. This Agreement provides funding to continue weekly sampling for total mercury and adds sampling of methyl-mercury through December 31, 2010.


The mercury deposition monitoring station in the Catskills will broaden the understanding of mercury deposition across New York State. This station will provide speciated-mercury wet deposition data using the same methods and protocols used for the wet deposition mercury monitoring station in the Adirondacks. Monitoring results will provide a baseline of data to use as a comparison to anticipated reductions in mercury emissions and deposition.

Project Results

Preliminary results reveal mean annual mercury concentrations at NY68 were comparable to other sites in the Northeast during the study period, March 2004 to December 2007, but lower than most of the sites in Pennsylvania. Total mercury deposition was higher at NY68 than at other sites in the northeast because of high precipitation amounts, though deposition was comparable to or higher than deposition in Pennsylvania. The median total mercury concentration at NY68 for the study period, March 2004 to December 2007, was 6.6 ng/L. The median total mercury deposition during the same period was 137.3 ng/m2. Total mercury deposition in New York was much lower than the highest deposition totals in the nation that were measured in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. All MDN data are available through the NADP Web site at Funding for the site has been extended through 2010. Sampling is ongoing.


USGS National Center MS270
P.O. Box 71362 Department of Interior
Philadelphia, PA 28272

Principle Investigator

Jason Siemion

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Environmental Monitoring & Research

Technologies Types:

NYSERDA Contact Information

Gregory Lampman


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST6818-1

Last Updated: 4/18/2014