The major streams in Chester County, Pennsylvania were studied to determine their environmental state, and to relate this condition to land- use patterns. A biological numerical rating system on a scale of 1 to 10 was developed to classify stream conditions. One indicates extremely toxic conditions and 10 balanced biological conditions. The majority of the streams studied had ratings between 4 and 8, indicating they were experiencing varying degrees of enrichment and/or sediment deposition. The streams with high numerical ratings were generally found in rural and agricultural areas. Streams with low numerical rating were found mostly in areas near waste treatment facilities or industry. Large changes in the numerical rating of a stream were related to changes in land-use patterns.
Relationships were developed between dissolved solids concentrations and the biological numerical ratings of the streams. Streams with ratings from 6 to 10 had dissolved solids concentrations of approximately 100 mg/L. At ratings of 5 to 1, the dissolved solids concentrations increased progressively from 122 to 310 mg/L.
Chemical data for the streams were related to the dominant orders of benthic invertebrates. The stoneflies were found to be the most sensitive to high levels of chemical constituents. The trueflies, mayflies, and caddis flies showed a wide tolerance to various chemical constituents.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Limnological studies of the major streams in Chester County, Pennsylvania