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Data Compilation and Assessment for Water Resources in Pennsylvania State Forest and Park Lands

U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 327

Prepared in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

By Daniel G. Galeone

View the report in Portable Document Format (PDF) DS 327 (8.03 MB)

Download the appendixes (259 KB)


As a result of a cooperative study between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PaDCNR), available electronic data were compiled for Pennsylvania state lands (state forests and parks) to allow PaDCNR to initially determine if data exist to make an objective evaluation of water resources for specific basins. The data compiled included water-quantity and water-quality data and sample locations for benthic macroinvertebrates within state-owned lands (including a 100-meter buffer around each land parcel) in Pennsylvania. In addition, internet links or contacts for geographic information system coverages pertinent to water-resources studies also were compiled. Water-quantity and water-quality data primarily available through January 2007 were compiled and summarized for site types that included streams, lakes, ground-water wells, springs, and precipitation. Data were categorized relative to 35 watershed boundaries defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for resource-management purposes.

The primary sources of continuous water-quantity data for Pennsylvania state lands were the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Weather Service (NWS). The USGS has streamflow data for 93 surface-water sites located in state lands; 38 of these sites have continuous-recording data available. As of January 2007, 22 of these 38 streamflow-gaging stations were active; the majority of active gaging stations have over 40 years of continuous record. The USGS database also contains continuous ground-water elevation data for 32 wells in Pennsylvania state lands, 18 of which were active as of January 2007. Sixty-eight active precipitation stations (primarily from the NWS network) are located in state lands.

The four sources of available water-quality data for Pennsylvania state lands were the USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. The water-quality data, which were primarily collected after 1970, were summarized by categorizing the analytical data for each site into major groups (for example, trace metals, pesticides, major ions, etc.) for each type (streams, lakes, ground-water wells, and springs) of data compiled. The number of samples and number of detections for each analyte within each group also were summarized. A total of 410 stream sites and 205 ground-water wells in state lands had water-quality data from the available data sets, and these sites were well-distributed across the state. A total of 107 lakes and 47 springs in state lands had water-quality data from the available data sets, but these data types were not well-distributed across the state; the majority of water-quality data for lakes was in the western or eastern sections of the state and water-quality data for springs was primarily located in the central part of the Lower Susquehanna River Valley. The most common types of water-quality data collected were major ions, trace elements, and nutrients. Physical parameters, such as water temperature, stream discharge, or water level, typically were collected for most water-quality samples.

Given the large database available from PaDEP for benthic macroinvertebrates, along with some data from other agencies, there is very good distribution of benthic-macroinvertebrate data for state lands. Benthic macroinvertebrate samples were collected at 1,077 locations in state lands from 1973 to 2006. Most (980 samples) of the benthic-macroinvertebrate samples were collected by PaDEP as part of the state assessment of stream conditions required by the Clean Water Act.

Data compiled in this report can be used for various water-resource issues, such as basin-wide water-budget analysis, studies of ecological or instream flow, or water-quality assessments. The determination of an annual water budget in selected basins is best supported by the available data. Much different and more extensive data are required for an ecological-flow study or water-quality assessment. The compilation and summary of data in this report allow for a quick initial determination of available data and whether more data may be required for the particular task at hand within a specific basin. Methods of data estimation for basins that are lacking certain types of water-quantity data also are presented. Data estimation is of primary importance for streamflow data in ungaged basins.

Table of Contents

     Purpose and Scope
     Water Resources
Data Compilation
     Water Quantity
          Ground Water
     Water Quality
          Available Data
     Benthic Macroinvertebrates
     Geographic Information Systems Coverages
Data Assessment
     Water Quantity
          Ground water
          Water-Budget Summary
     Water Quality
          Ground-Water Wells and Springs
     Benthic Macroinvertebrates
     Geographic Information System Coverages
Summary And Conclusions
References Cited

Suggested citation:
Galeone, D.G., 2008, Data compilation and assessment for water resources in Pennsylvania state forest and park lands: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 327, 65 p.

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 from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

View the report in Portable Document Format (PDF) DS 327 (8.03 MB)

Download the appendixes (259 KB)

For more information about USGS activities in Pennsylvania contact:
USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center
215 Limekiln Road
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania 17070
Telephone: (717) 730-6960
Fax: (717) 730-6997
or access the USGS Water Resources of Pennsylvania home page at:

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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