Biological, chemical, and habitat data have been collected from a network of sites in Chester County, Pa., from 1970 to 2003 to assess stream quality. Forty sites in 6 major stream basins were sampled between 1998 and 2000. Biological data were used to determine levels of impairment in the benthic-macroinvertebrate community in Chester County streams and relate the impairment, in conjunction with chemical and habitat data, to overall stream quality. Biological data consisted of benthic-macroinvertebrate samples that were collected annually in the fall. Water-chemistry samples were collected and instream habitat was assessed in support of the biological sampling. Most sites in the network were designated as nonimpacted or slightly impacted by human activities or extreme climatic conditions on the basis of biological-metric analysis of benthic-macroinvertebrate data. Impacted sites were affected by factors, such as nutrient enrichment, erosion and sedimentation, point discharges, and droughts and floods. Streams in the Schuylkill River, Delaware River, and East Branch Brandywine Creek Basins in Chester County generally had low nutrient concentrations, except in areas affected by wastewater- treatment discharges, and stream habitat that was affected by erosion. Streams in the West Branch Brandywine, Christina, Big Elk, and Octoraro Creek Basins in Chester County generally had elevated nutrient concentrations and streambottom habitat that was affected by sediment deposition. Macroinvertebrate communities identified in samples from French Creek, Pigeon Creek (Schuylkill River Basin), and East Branch Brandywine Creek at Glenmoore consistently indicate good stream conditions and were the best conditions measured in the network. Macroinvertebrate communities identified in samples from Trout Creek (site 61), West Branch Red Clay Creek (site 55) (Christina River Basin), and Valley Creek near Atglen (site 34) (Octoraro Creek Basin) indicated fair to poor stream conditions and were the worst conditions measured in the network. Trout Creek is heavily impacted due to erosion, and Valley Creek near Atglen and West Branch Red Clay Creek are influenced by wastewater discharges. Hydrologic conditions in 1999, including a prolonged drought and a flood, influenced chemical concentrations and macroinvertebrate community structure throughout the county. Concentrations of nutrients and ions were lower in 1999 when compared to 1998 and 2000 concentrations. Macroinvertebrate communities identified in samples from 1999 contained lower numbers of individuals when compared to 1998 and 2000 but had similar community structure. Results from chemical and biological sampling in 2000 indicated that the benthic-macroinvertebrate community structure and the concentrations of nutrients and ions recovered to pre-1999 levels.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Assessment of water chemistry, habitat, and benthic macroinvertebrates at selected stream-quality monitoring sites in Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1998-2000