Johnson County is one of the fastest growing and most populated counties in Kansas. Urban development affects streams by altering stream hydrology, geomorphology, water chemistry, and habitat, which then can lead to adverse effects on fish and macroinvertebrate communities. In addition, increasing sources of contaminants in urbanizing streams results in public-health concerns associated with exposure to and consumption of contaminated water.
Biological assessments, or surveys of organisms living in aquatic environments, are crucial components of water-quality programs because they provide an indication of how well water bodies support aquatic life. This fact sheet describes current biological conditions of Johnson County streams and characterizes stream biology relative to urban development.
Biological conditions were evaluated by collecting macroinvertebrate samples from 15 stream sites in Johnson County, Kansas, in 2003 and 2004 (fig. 1). Data from seven additional sites, collected as part of a separate study with similar objectives in Kansas and Missouri (Wilkison and others, 2005), were evaluated to provide a more comprehensive assessment of watersheds that cross State boundaries. Land-use and water- and streambed-sediment-quality data also were used to evaluate factors that may affect macroinvertebrate communities.
Metrics are indices used to measure, or evaluate, macroinvertebrate response to various factors such as human disturbance. Multimetric scores, which integrated 10 different metrics that measure various aspects of macroinvertebrate communities, including organism diversity, composition, tolerance, and feeding characteristics, were used to evaluate and compare biological health of Johnson County streams.
This information is useful to city and county officials for defining current biological conditions, evaluating conditions relative to State biological criteria, evaluating effects of urbanization, developing effective water-quality management plans, and documenting changes in biological conditions and water quality.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Biological Conditions in Streams of Johnson County, Kansas, and Nearby Missouri, 2003 and 2004