thumbnail

Investigation of water quality and aquatic-community structure in Village and Valley Creeks, City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, 2000-01

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4182

By:
, ,

Links

Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 16-month investigation of water quality, aquatic-community structure, bed sediment, and fish tissue in Village and Valley Creeks, two urban streams that drain areas of highly intensive residential, commercial, and industrial land use in Birmingham, Alabama. Water-quality data were collected between February 2000 and March 2001 at four sites on Village Creek, three sites on Valley Creek, and at two reference sites near Birmingham?Fivemile Creek and Little Cahaba River, both of which drain less-urbanized areas. Stream samples were analyzed for major ions, nutrients, fecal bacteria, trace and major elements, pesticides, and selected organic constituents. Bed-sediment and fish-tissue samples were analyzed for trace and major elements, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and additional organic compounds. Aquatic-community structure was evaluated by conducting one survey of the fish community and in-stream habitat and two surveys of the benthic-invertebrate community. Bed-sediment and fish-tissue samples, benthic-invertebrates, and habitat data were collected between June 2000 and October 2000 at six of the nine water-quality sites; fish communities were evaluated in April and May 2001 at the six sites where habitat and benthic-invertebrate data were collected. The occurrence and distribution of chemical constituents in the water column and bed sediment provided an initial assessment of water quality in the streams. The structure of the aquatic communities, the physical condition of the fish, and the chemical analyses of fish tissue provided an indication of the cumulative effects of water quality on the aquatic biota. Water chemistry was similar at all sites, characterized by strong calcium-bicarbonate component and magnesium components. Median concentrations of total nitrogen and total phosphorus were highest at the headwaters of Valley Creek and lowest at the reference site on Fivemile Creek. In Village Creek, median concentrations of nitrite and ammonia increased in a downstream direction. In Valley Creek, median concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, organic nitrogen, suspended phosphorus, and orthophosphate decreased in a downstream direction. Median concentrations of Escherichia coli and fecal coliform bacteria were highest at the most upstream site of Valley Creek and lowest at the reference site on Fivemile Creek. Concentrations of enterococci exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criterion in 80 percent of the samples; concentrations of Escherichia coli exceeded the criterion in 56 percent of the samples. Concentrations of bacteria at the downstream sites on Village and Valley Creeks were elevated during high flow rather than low flow, indicating the presence of nonpoint sources. Surface-water samples were analyzed for chemical compounds that are commonly found in wastewater and urban runoff. The median number of wastewater indicators was highest at the most upstream site on Valley Creek and lowest at the reference site on Fivemile Creek. Concentrations of total recoverable cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc in surface water exceeded acute and chronic aquatic life criteria in up to 24 percent of the samples that were analyzed for trace and major elements. High concentrations of trace and major elements in the water column were detected most frequently during high flow, indicating the presence of nonpoint sources. Of the 24 pesticides detected in surface water, 17 were herbicides and 7 were insecticides. Atrazine, simazine, and prometon were the most commonly detected herbicides; diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and carbaryl were the most commonly detected insecticides. Concentrations of atrazine, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion periodically exceeded criteria for the protection of aquatic life. Trace-element priority pollutants, pesticides, and other organic compounds were detected in higher concentrations in bed sediment at the Village and Valley Creek sites t

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Investigation of water quality and aquatic-community structure in Village and Valley Creeks, City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, 2000-01
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2002-4182
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2002
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
viii, 120 p. : col. ill., col. maps ; 28 cm.