Selected water-quality and biological characteristics of streams in some forested basins of North Carolina, 1985-88

Water-Resources Investigations Report 92-4129




Selected physical, chemical and biological components of streams draining undeveloped, forested basins in North Carolina were characterized on the basis of samples collected at nine sites on streams in basins that ranged in size from 0.67 to 11.2 sq mi. Water analysis included specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, suspended sediment, pH, major dissolved constituents, nutrients, minor constituents, organochlorine insecticides, and biochemical oxygen demand. Biological characteristics included fish tissue analysis for minor constituents and synthetic organic compounds, fish community structure, and benthic macroinvertebrates. Precipitation is the source of 10 to 40% of the chloride concentration and 20 to 30% of the sulfate concentration in stormflow. Mean total nitrogen concentrations ranged from 0.16 mg/L during low-flow conditions to 1.2 mg/L during stormflow. Organic nitrogen was 60 to 85% of the total nitrogen concentration. Stream water was free of organochlorine insecticides. DDD, DDE, DDT, Lindane, and Mirex were detected in 18 of 60 samples of streambed material. About 35% of fish tissue analyses showed detectable concentrations of copper, lead, mercury and nickel. Synthetic organic chemicals were not detected in fish tissue. Fish community structure data were rated using Karr's Index of Biotic Integrity. Streams rated poor to good because of natural stresses on fish communities. Five streams in the Piedmont and mountains received excellent bioclassification ratings based on benthic macroinvertebrtate data. Two streams in the Coastal Plain rated good to fair because of natural stresses.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Selected water-quality and biological characteristics of streams in some forested basins of North Carolina, 1985-88
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; For sale by the Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
viii, 114 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
United States
North Carolina