Water Quality in the Great and Little Miami River Basins

Ohio and Indiana, 1999–2001


U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1229


By Gary L. Rowe, Jr., David C. Reutter, Donna L. Runkle, Julie A. Hambrook, Stephanie D. Janosy, and Lee H. Hwang


This circular is available as a pdf.


This report contains the major findings of a 19992001 assessment of water quality in the Great and Little Miami River Basins. It is one of a series of reports by the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program that present major findings in 51 major river basins and aquifer systems across the Nation.


In these reports, water quality is discussed in terms of local, State, and regional issues. Conditions in a particular basin or aquifer system are compared to conditions found elsewhere and to selected national benchmarks, such as those for drinking-water quality and the protection of aquatic organisms.


This report is intended for individuals working with water-resource issues in Federal, State, or local agencies, universities, public interest groups, or in the private sector. The information will be useful in addressing a number of current issues, such as the effects of agricultural and urban land use on water quality, human health, drinking water, source-water protection, hypoxia and excessive growth of algae and plants, pesticide registration, and monitoring and sampling strategies. This report is also for individuals who wish to know more about the quality of streams and ground water in areas near where they live and how that water quality compares to the quality of water in other areas across the Nation.


The water-quality conditions in the Great and Little Miami River Basins summarized in this report are discussed in detail in other reports that can be accessed from ( Detailed technical information, data and analyses, collection and analytical methodology, models, graphs, and maps that support the findings presented in this report, in addition to reports in this series from other basins, can be accessed from the national NAWQA Web site (


National Water-Quality Assessment Program

What kind of water-quality information does the NAWQA Program provide?

Introduction to this Report

Summary of Major Findings

Introduction to the Great and Little Miami River Basins

Major Findings


NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Pesticide occurrence in streams varied in response to ground-water contributions; pesticides in ground water were generally comparable to those in the rest of the Nation and Corn Belt region

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE—Glyphosate was detected infrequently in streams and not found in ground water

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE—Atrazine concentrations in treated water from Harsha Lake met drinking-water standard

Other Organic Compounds

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE—Hydrogeologic setting, ground-water age, well depth, and construction are key to understanding water quality

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Concentrations of PCBs in fish tissue were among the highest in the Nation

Naturally Occurring Trace Elements

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Concentrations of mercury in water and sediment were lower than the national median, despite higher atmospheric deposition rates

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Proposed drinking-water standard for radon commonly was exceeded, but concentrations were similar to those in other glaciated areas

Nutrients—Too Much of a Good Thing

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Nutrients in mixed-land-use streams and nitrate in shallow agricultural wells were among the highest in the Nation

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE—Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) contributed additional nutrients and trace amounts of antibiotics to streams

Influence of Urbanization on Stream Quality

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE—Changes observed in the Fish Community, 1900–98

REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Stream quality degrades as urbanization increases in four major metropolitan areas

Study-Unit Design

References Cited


Appendix—Water Quality Data from the Great and Little Miami River Basins in a National Context

Points of Contact and Additional Information


The companion Web site for NAWQA summary reports:


Great and Little Miami River Basins contact and Web site:

USGS State Representative

U.S. Geological Survey

Water Resources Discipline

6480 Doubletree Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43229–1111



National NAWQA Program:

Chief, NAWQA Program
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Discipline
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M.S. 413
Reston, VA 20192


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U.S. Geological Survey,

Information Services
Box 25286, Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225


For more information about the USGS and its products:

Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS
World Wide Web:


The text and graphics are presented here in pdf format (print quality). The full report is 42.6MB.


If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download it from Adobe Systems, Inc.  Users with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at


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