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Assessment of biological conditions at selected stream sites in Johnson County, Kansas, and Cass and Jackson Counties, Missouri, 2003 and 2004

July 18, 2007

Macroinvertebrate samples were collected at 15 stream sites representing 11 different watersheds in Johnson County, Kansas, in 2003 and 2004 to assess biological conditions in streams and relations to environmental variables. Published data from an additional seven stream sites, one in Johnson County, Kansas, and six others in adjacent Cass and Jackson Counties in Missouri also were evaluated. Multimetric scores, which integrated a combination of measures that describe various aspects of biological community abundance and diversity, were used to evaluate and compare the biological health of streams. In addition, for 15 of 16 Johnson County stream sites, environmental data (streamflow, precipitation, and land use) and water- and sediment-quality data (primarily nutrients, indicator bacteria, and organic wastewater compounds) were used in statistical analyses to evaluate relations between macroinvertebrate metrics and variables that may affect them. The information is useful for defining current conditions, evaluating conditions relative to State aquatic-life support and total maximum daily load requirements, evaluating effects of urbanization, developing effective water-quality management plans, and documenting changes in biological condition and water quality.

Biological conditions in selected Johnson County streams generally reflected a gradient in the degree of human disturbances upstream from the sites, including percentage of urban and agricultural land use as well as the presence, absence, and proximity of wastewater treatment discharges. In this report, the term gradient is used to describe a continuum in the conditions (biological, environmental, or land use) observed at the study sites. Upstream Blue River sites, downstream from primarily agricultural land use, consistently scored among the sites least impacted by human disturbance, and in some metrics these sites scored higher than the State reference site (Captain Creek). The term impact, as used in this report, refers to a negative biological response at a site associated with one or more human-induced sources of disturbance or stress. However, no sites, including the Captain Creek reference site, met Kansas Department of Health and Environment criteria for full support of aquatic life during the 2 years of sample collection. Upstream sites on Kill and Cedar Creeks also consistently scored among the least impacted. Sites less than 3 miles downstream from municipal wastewater treatment facility discharges (two Indian Creek sites) and sites with no wastewater discharge but with substantial impervious surface area within their respective watersheds (Tomahawk, Turkey, and Brush Creeks) consistently scored among the sites most impacted by human disturbance.

Publication Year 2007
Title Assessment of biological conditions at selected stream sites in Johnson County, Kansas, and Cass and Jackson Counties, Missouri, 2003 and 2004
DOI 10.3133/sir20075108
Authors Barry C. Poulton, Teresa J. Rasmussen, Casey J. Lee
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2007-5108
Index ID sir20075108
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center; Kansas Water Science Center