Biological Monitoring and Assessment of Watersheds in Rockdale County, Georgia, May–August 2003

M. Brian Gregory

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1214, 60 pages (Published August 2005) ONLINE ONLY


Cover photograph: Left photograph and top right photograph: Yellow River at hydroelectric dam (about 1,000 feet downstream of Georgia Highway 20) in Milstead, Georgia. Photographs by Lester J. Williams, U.S. Geological Survey. Bottom right photograph: U.S. Geological Survey personnel collecting fishes at  Little Haynes Creek at Dial Mill Road. Photograph by Alan Cressler, U.S. Geological Survey.The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Rockdale County Department of Water Resources assessed the ecological conditions in selected stream reaches during 2003 as part of the county's ongoing long-term, water-quality monitoring program. These assessments included characterization of the condition of aquatic habitats, aquatic invertebrate communities, and fish communities at five fixed monitoring stations and five randomly selected monitoring stations distributed among the five major watersheds draining Rockdale County, Georgia. Ecological data collected during stream surveys were applied to indices recommended by the State of Georgia for conducting biomonitoring and biological assessments in the Piedmont Ecoregion of Georgia.

Based on the invertebrate and habitat assessments conducted during summer 2003, Ecological Condition Scores were calculated. These scores were based on the total numbers of points accumulated at a site and ranged from 35 at the reference stream reach located on Little Haynes Creek to 15 at Snapping Shoals Creek at Flat Shoals Road. Ecological Condition Scores were based on the percentage of each site's score as compared to the reference site. Ecological Condition Scores are linked by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to general assessment categories, which have corresponding legal implications defined by the Clean Water Act. Most Rockdale County streams assessed during 2003 were rated as "fair" or "partially supporting" the stream's designated water use. Only one stream, Jackson Creek above Rock Creek, was rated as "good" and therefore "supporting" its designated water use; conversely, only one stream, Snapping Shoals Creek at Flat Shoals Road, was rated as "poor" and therefore "not supporting" its designated water use.

Fish community data were used to rank streams based on index of biotic integrity scores calculated from data collected by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Based on these scores, fish communities were assigned to integrity classes. Integrity classes in streams assessed during 2003 ranged from "good" at the reference site to "very poor" or "poor" at eight other sites. One stream in Rockdale County, Honey Creek at Honey Creek Road, was rated as "fair" based on fish community data collected during 2003.




Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Methods of Investigation

Site Selection

Habitat Characterization

Invertebrate Community Characterization

Fish Community Characterization

Stream Use Classification and Integrity Classes


Big Haynes Creek Watershed

Fixed Site (Reference Site) — Little Haynes Creek at Dial Mill Road

Random Site — Big Haynes Creek at Pleasant Hill Road.

Yellow River Watershed

Fixed Site — Tributary to Yellow River at County Road 411

Random Site — Tributary to Yellow River at Dennard Road

Snapping Shoals Creek Watershed

Fixed Site — Snapping Shoals Creek at Honey Creek Road

Random Site — Snapping Shoals Creek at Flat Shoals Road

Honey Creek Watershed

Fixed Site — Honey Creek at Flat Shoals Road

Random Site — Honey Creek at Honey Creek Road

South River Watershed

Fixed Site — Tributary to South River at Flat Bridge Road

Random Site — Jackson Creek above Rock Creek

Use Classification and Integrity Classes

References Cited


Appendix A. Summary of Invertebrate Community Data

Appendix B. Summary of Fish Community Data



This report is available online in pdf format: Open-File Report 2005-1214 (3.2 MB)
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Fish and invertebrate data used in this report and collected during 2003 and 2004 monitoring are reported in the U.S. Geological Survey's annual Water Resources Data report for Georgia.

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