In 1970, the Chester County Water Resources Authority (Pennsylvania) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) established a long-term water-quality network with the goal of assessing the quality of streams in the county and understanding stream changes in response to urbanization using benthic-macroinvertebrate data. This database represents one of the longest continuous water-quality data sets in the country. Benthic macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects, such as mayﬂies, caddisﬂies, rifﬂe beetles, and midges, and other invertebrates that live on the stream bottom. Benthic macroin-vertebrates are useful in evaluating stream quality because their habitat preference and low motility cause them to be affected directly by substances that enter the aquatic system. By evaluating the diversity and community structure of benthic-macroinvertebrate populations, a determination of stream quality can be made.
Between 1981 and 1997, the water-quality network consisted of 43 sites in 5 major basins in Chester County—Delaware, Schuylkill, Brandywine, Big Elk and Octoraro, and Red and White Clay. Benthic-macroinvertebrate, water-chemistry, and habitat data were collected each year in October or November during base-ﬂow conditions. Using these data, Reif evaluates the overall water-quality condition of Chester County streams. This Fact Sheet summarizes the key ﬁndings from Reif for streams in the Big Elk and Octoraro Creek Basins. These streams include East Branch Big Elk Creek (site 31), West Branch Big Elk Creek (site 32), East Branch Octoraro Creek (site 33) and Valley Creek (site 34). This summary includes an analysis of stream conditions based on benthic-macroinvertebrate samples and an analysis of trends in stream conditions for the 17-year study period.
|Title||Assessment of stream quality using biological indices at selected sites in the Big Elk and Octoraro Creek basins, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1981-97|
|Authors||Andrew G. Reif|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Fact Sheet|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Pennsylvania Water Science Center|