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New Hampshire Science Center

In cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Effects of Urbanization on Stream Quality at Selected Sites in the Seacoast Region in New Hampshire, 2001-03

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By Jeffrey R. Deacon, Sally A. Soule, and Thor E. Smith

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5103

Complete text of report is available as a PDF ( 1,579 KB)

Abstract

A study of selected water-quality and macroinvertebrate community data was conducted at 10 stream sites in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire to determine if a relation is present between stream quality and the extent of urbanization in a watershed. Watersheds with similar characteristics, but varying in their degree of urban development, were studied. The percent of impervious surface, the percent of urban land use in a watershed, and the percent of urban land use in two types of stream buffers were compared and correlated with stream-quality variables.

Specific conductance, turbidity, nitrite plus nitrate yields, and selected macroinvertebrate community data were significantly correlated with most measures of urbanization used in this study; however, concentrations and total phosphorus yields were not statistically correlated with most measures of urbanization in this study. The measures of urbanization that had the highest correlations with stream-quality variables were those measures that were associated with the percent of urban land in buffer zones near and upstream of a sampling site. A water-quality and habitat conditions score was negatively correlated with the percent of urban land in a 1-kilometer radial buffer of the sampling site (rho (r) = -0.86; p < 0.001), the percent of impervious surface (r = -0.70; p < 0.05), and the percent of urban land in the watershed (r = -0.67; p < 0.05). A biological condition score also was negatively correlated with the percent of urban land in a 1-kilometer radial buffer of the sampling site (r = -0.95; p < 0.0001), the percent of impervious surface (r = -0.75; p < 0.05), and the percent of urban land in the watershed (r = -0.79; p < 0.01). The percent of urban land in a 25-meter stream buffer along the stream corridor also had negative correlations with a water-quality and habitat conditions score (r = -0.80; p < 0.01) and a biological condition score (r = -0.86; p < 0.01). Mean Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) taxa richness showed a response to urbanization in a watershed, indicating that EPT taxa richness may be an appropriate metric to evaluate the effects of urban land use on small streams in this region. Results from this study indicate that the percent of urban land use in buffer zones and the percent of impervious surface in a watershed can be used as indicators of stream quality.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Data Collection and Analysis

Site Selection

Sample Collection

Data Analysis

Characterization of Physical Measurements, Water Quality, Macroinvertebrates, and Habitat at Selected Sites

Physical Measurements and Water Quality

Macroinvertebrates and Habitat

Effects of Urbanization on Stream Quality at Selected Sites

Impervious Surface and Stream-Quality Measures

Radial Buffers and Stream-Quality Measures

Stream Buffers and Stream-Quality Measures

Water-Quality and Habitat Conditions Score and the Biological Condition Score

Summary and Conclusions

Acknowledgments

Literature Cited


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For more information concerning the research in this report, contact:

 

Brian Mrazik, Director

USGS

NH-VT Water Science Center

361 Commerce Way

Pembroke, NH 03275

 

Web site: http://nh.water.usgs.gov

Phone: (603) 226-7807

Email: dc_nh@usgs.gov

 


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL: http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/sir20055103
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Last modified: Thursday, January 10 2013, 04:54:44 PM
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL: http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/sir20055103
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Last modified: Thursday, January 10 2013, 04:54:44 PM
FirstGov button  Take Pride in America button