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National Water-Quality Assessment Program

Methods and Sources of Data Used to Develop Selected Water–Quality Indicators for Streams and Ground Water for the 2007 Edition of The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems Report with Comparisons to the 2002 Edition

U.S. Geological Survey Open–File Report 2008–1110

By John T. Wilson, Nancy T. Baker, Michael J. Moran, Charles G. Crawford, Lisa H. Nowell, Patricia L. Toccalino, and William G. Wilber

ONLINE ONLY

This report is available below as a 61–page PDF for viewing and printing.

This report also includes 1 oversized table (PDF and Excel formats) and 25 appendixes (Excel format), which are available below for viewing and printing.


Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was one of numerous governmental, private, and academic entities that provided input to the report The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems published periodically by the Heinz Center. This report describes the sources of data and methods used by the USGS to develop selected water–quality indicators for the 2007 edition of the Heinz Center report and documents modifications in the data sources and interpretations between the 2002 and 2007 editions of the Heinz Center report. Stream and ground–water quality data collected nationally as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program were used to develop the ecosystem indicators for the Heinz Center report, including Core National indicators for the Movement of Nitrogen and Chemical Contamination and for selected ecosystems classified as Farmlands, Forest, Grasslands and Shrublands, Freshwater, and Urban and Suburban. In addition, the USGS provided water–quality and streamflow data collected as part of the National Stream Water Quality Accounting Network and the Federal–State Cooperative Program. The documentation provided herein serves not only as a reference for current and future editions of The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems but also provides critical information for future assessments of changes in contaminant occurrence in streams and ground water of the United States.

Contents

Foreword

Abstract

Introduction

The Movement of Nitrogen

Delivery of Total Nitrogen to Streams and Rivers from Major Watersheds

Nitrate Discharged to Coastal Waters by Major U.S. Rivers

Classification of Stream Sites by Ecosystem

Chemical Contamination

Contaminant Occurrence

Stream Water

Streambed Sediment

Fish Tissue

Ground Water

Contaminants Exceeding Benchmarks

Stream Water

Human Health

Aquatic Life

Streambed Sediment

Fish Tissue

Ground Water

Differences between Methods Applied in the 2002 and 2007 Analyses and Effects on Results

Stream Water

Streambed Sediment

Fish Tissue

Ground Water

Pesticides in Farmlands

Stream Water

Ground Water

Nutrients in Stream Water

Nitrate

Phosphorus

Phosphorus in Large Rivers

Nitrate in Ground Water

Farmlands

Grasslands and Shrublands

Summary

Acknowledgments

References Cited

Appendix  1.  Delivery of total nitrogen to streams and rivers from major watersheds: LOADEST model input parameters and
                   model output total nitrogen yields

Appendix  2.  Annual nitrate load estimates for the Mississippi River for 1968–2004

Appendix  3.  Annual nitrate load estimates for the Mississippi River, Susquehanna River, St. Lawrence River and Columbia River

Appendix  4.  List of NAWQA Cycle 1 stream–water sampling sites with land–use classification used for the Heinz Center’s report
                   on The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems

Appendix  5.  Water–quality data for pesticides and nutrients in stream–water samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix  6.  List of analytes sampled in stream water with human–health and aquatic–life benchmarks

Appendix  7.  Contaminant occurrence in national, farmland, and urban and suburban streams

Appendix  8.  Streambed–sediment quality data for organochlorine pesticide compounds, total PCBs, SVOCs, and trace elements
                   in samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix  9.  List of analytes sampled in streambed sediment with aquatic–life benchmarks

Appendix 10. Contaminant occurrence in streambed sediment

Appendix 11. Fish–tissue data for organochlorine pesticide compounds and total PCBs in whole–fish samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix 12. List of analytes sampled in whole–fish tissue with their whole–fish benchmarks

Appendix 13. Contaminant occurrence in fish tissue

Appendix 14. Water–quality data for nutrients in ground–water samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix 15. Compilation of water–quality data for contaminants in National ground water

Appendix 16. List of analytes sampled in ground water with human–health benchmarks

Appendix 17. Pesticide and nitrate exceedances of human–health benchmarks in stream water and time–weighted mean pesticide
                  concentrations in stream water

Appendix 18. Aquatic–life criteria for ammonia, with exceedances of aquatic–life benchmarks for pesticides in streams

Appendix 19. Exceedance of bed–sediment benchmarks for the protection of benthic aquatic organisms

Appendix 20. Exceedance of whole–fish benchmarks for protection of fish–eating wildlife

Appendix 21. Water–quality data for trace elements in ground–water samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix 22. Compilation of water–quality data for pesticides in farmlands ground water

Appendix 23. Water–quality data for nitrate and total phosphorus in stream–water samples collected by NAWQA

Appendix 24. Total phosphorus in large rivers

Appendix 25. Compilation of water–quality data for nitrate in ground water

Figures

       1. Maps showing delivery of total nitrogen to streams and rivers from major watersheds (1996–2000 and 2001–2005).

       2. Graph and table showing total land area for each Delivery of Nitrogen class bin of the mean–total nitrogen yield from
           major watersheds (1996–2000 and 2001–2005).

       3. Graph showing annual nitrate loads discharged to coastal waters by the Mississippi, Susquehanna, St. Lawrence,
           and Columbia Rivers.

       4. Maps showing NAWQA land–use classification and Heinz Center report ecosystem classification for NAWQA sampling sites.


     5–6. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

            5. Contaminant occurrence in national stream water compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions
                of the Heinz Center report.

            6. Contaminant occurrence in streams draining the Urban and Suburban ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998)
                and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


        7. Table and graph showing the effect of censoring levels on contaminant occurrence in national stream water compiled for
            the 2007 (1992–2001) edition of the Heinz Center report.


   8–10. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

             8. Contaminant occurrence in streambed sediment of national streams compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and
                 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             9. Contaminant occurrence in freshwater fish tissue in national streams compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and
                 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

            10. Contaminant occurrence in national ground water compiled for the 2002 (1993–1998) and 2007 (1993–2001)
                 editions of the Heinz Center report.


        11. Table and graph showing contaminant occurrence in national ground water compiled for the 2007 (1993–2001)
              edition of the Heinz Center report using a standardized censoring level for pesticides, volatile organochlorine
              compounds, and nitrate.


  12–16. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

             12. The number of contaminants that exceeded human–health benchmarks in national stream water compiled for the
                   2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             13. The number of contaminants that exceeded human–health benchmarks in streams draining the Urban and Suburban
                   ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             14. The number of contaminants that exceeded aquatic–life benchmarks in national stream water compiled for the
                   2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             15. The number of contaminants that exceeded aquatic–life benchmarks in streams draining the Urban and Suburban
                   ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             16. The number of contaminants that exceeded aquatic–life benchmarks in streambed sediments of national streams
                   compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


        17. Table and graph showing the number of aquatic–life benchmarks that were exceeded in streambed–sediment samples
              of national streams grouped by contaminant class compiled for the 2007 (1992–2001) edition of the Heinz Center report.


  18–28. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

             18. The number of contaminants that exceeded benchmarklow values in fish–tissue samples in national streams
                   compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             19. The number of contaminants that exceeded benchmarkhigh values in fish–tissue samples in national streams
                   compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             20. The number of contaminants that exceeded human–health benchmarks in national ground water compiled
                   for the 2002 (1993–1998) and 2007 (1993–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             21. Pesticide occurrence in streams draining the Farmlands ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and
                   2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             22. The number of pesticides that exceeded human–health benchmarks in streams draining the Farmlands ecosystem
                   compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             23. The number of pesticides that exceeded aquatic–life benchmarks in streams draining the Farmlands ecosystem
                   compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             24. Pesticide occurrence in ground water from the Farmlands ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1993–1998) and
                   2007 (1993–2003) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             25. The number of pesticides that exceeded human–health benchmarks in ground water from the Farmlands ecosystem
                   compiled for the 2002 (1993–1998) and 2007 (1993–2003) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             26. Flow–weighted mean concentration of nitrate in streams draining the Farmlands ecosystem compiled for the
                   2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             27. Flow–weighted mean concentration of nitrate in streams draining the Forest ecosystem compiled for the
                   2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             28. Flow–weighted mean concentration of nitrate in streams draining the Urban and Suburban ecosystem compiled
                   for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


          29. Table and graph showing a comparison of mean concentration of nitrate in streams by ecosystem compiled for the
                2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


  30–31. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

             30. Flow–weighted mean concentration of total phosphorus in streams draining the Farmlands ecosystem compiled
                  for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             31. Flow–weighted mean concentration of total phosphorus in streams draining the Urban and Suburban ecosystem
                  compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


         32. Table and graph showing a comparison of mean concentration of total phosphorus in streams by ecosystem compiled
               for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2001) editions of the Heinz Center report.


  33–35. Tables, graphs, and maps showing:

             33. Time–weighted mean concentration of total phosphorus in large rivers compiled for the 2007 edition of the
                   Heinz Center report for the 1996–2000 and 2001–2005 time periods.

             34. Concentration of nitrate in ground water of the Farmlands ecosystem compiled for the 2002 (1992–1998)
                   and 2007 (1992–2003) editions of the Heinz Center report.

             35. Concentration of nitrate in ground water of the Grasslands and Shrublands ecosystem compiled for the
                   2007 (1994–2003) edition of the Heinz Center report.


         36. Table and graph showing the comparison of mean concentration of nitrate in ground water by ecosystem compiled
               for the 2002 (1992–1998) and 2007 (1992–2003) editions of the Heinz Center report.

Tables

          1. Sources and type of data provided by the USGS to the Heinz Center for the 2007 edition of The State of the
              Nation’s Ecosystems
, and documentation of differences in analysis methods between the 2002 and 2007 editions
              of the report.

          2. Criteria used to define the ecosystem classification of stream sampling sites for the 2007 Heinz Center report.

          3. Semivolatile organic compounds measured in streambed sediment environmental samples, censored to the larger
              of the 95th percentile concentration in National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) blanks (C95 value) or the NWQL
              established minimum reporting level (mrl) because of chronic contamination in laboratory blanks.

          4. Differences between the analyses for the 2002 and 2007 Heinz Center reports for chemical contamination in
              national ground water.


Availability

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Front cover (PDF) (36 KB) (8.5" by 11" paper)
Back cover (PDF) (26 KB) (8.5" by 11" paper)
Whole report (PDF) (11.7 MB) – 61 pages (8.5" by 11" paper)
Table 1 (PDF) (112 KB) – 1 page (17" by 11" paper)
Table 1 (Excel) (45 KB)
Appendix 1 (Excel) (150 KB)
Appendix 2 (Excel) (10.3 MB)
Appendix 3 (Excel) (156 KB)
Appendix 4 (Excel) (543 KB)
Appendix 5 (Excel) (9.62 MB)
Appendix 6 (Excel) (129 KB)
Appendix 7 (Excel) (8.95 MB)
Appendix 8 (Excel) (3.43 MB)
Appendix 9 (Excel) (70 KB)
Appendix 10 (Excel) (4.18 MB)
Appendix 11 (Excel) (757 KB)
Appendix 12 (Excel) (41 KB)
Appendix 13 (Excel) (868 KB)
Appendix 14 (Excel) (412 KB)
Appendix 15 (Excel) (414 KB)
Appendix 16 (Excel) (89 KB)
Appendix 17 (Excel) (3.67 MB)
Appendix 18 (Excel) (2.92 MB)
Appendix 19 (Excel) (7.43 MB)
Appendix 20 (Excel) (7.11 MB)
Appendix 21 (Excel) (3.46 MB)
Appendix 22 (Excel) (331 KB)
Appendix 23 (Excel) (968 KB)
Appendix 24 (Excel) (277 KB)
Appendix 25 (Excel) (532 KB)


Suggested Citation:

Wilson, J.T., Baker, N.T., Moran, M.J., Crawford, C.G., Nowell, L.H., Toccalino, P.L., and Wilber, W.G., 2008, Methods and sources of data used to develop selected water–quality indicators for streams and ground water for the 2007 edition of The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems report with comparisons to the 2002 edition: U.S. Geological Survey Open–File Report 2008–1110, 61 p., plus 1 oversized table and 25 appendixes



For more information about activities of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, visit the NAWQA home page.




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