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Assessment of Water Quality, Benthic Invertebrates, and Periphyton in the Threemile Creek Basin, Mobile, Alabama, 1999–2003

U.S. Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2004–5302
by Ann K. McPherson, Amy C. Gill, and Richard S. Moreland


Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Study Area

Previous Investigations

Acknowledgments

Watershed Characteristics of the Threemile Creek Basin

Land Use

Hydrology

Methods of Study

Water-Quality Sample Collection

Benthic Invertebrate and Periphyton Sample Collection

Water-Quality Data Analysis and Review

Quality-Control Methods and Results

Benthic Invertebrate and Periphyton Data Analysis and Review

Water-Quality Results and Discussion

Basic Water Chemistry

Major Ions

Instantaneous and Continuous Measurements of Water Properties

Nutrients

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Suspended Chlorophyll a and b

Biochemical Oxygen Demand and Total Organic Carbon

Fecal-Indicator Bacteria

Organic Wastewater Compounds

Occurrence and Distribution of Wastewater Indicator Groups

Organic Wastewater Compounds as Endocrine Disruptors

Antioxidants

Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs

Steroids—Sterols and Stanols

Fragrances

Detergent Metabolites

Antimicrobials

Plasticizers/Flame Retardants

Insect Repellent

Insecticides

Herbicides and Fungicides

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Comparison of Organic Wastewater Compounds in the Threemile Creek Basin to Sites Nationwide

Benthic Invertebrates Results and Discussion

Periphyton Results and Discussion

Summary

Selected References

Figures

1– 4. Maps showing:

  1. Locations of sampling sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile County, Alabama
  2. Locations of stormwater outfalls, wastewater-treatment plants, sampling sites, and profile sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  3. Delineations of the Level III and Level IV Ecoregion classifications and subbasin boundaries in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  4. Land-use characteristics in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama

5. Graph showing land use in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama

6. Piper trilinear diagram showing major ion composition of surface-water samples collected at six sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2001

7–38. Graphs showing:

  1. Gage height, water temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and discharge at U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging stations (A) 02471013 (TM-1), (B) 0247101490 (TM-4), and (C) 02471016 (TM-5), August 25–September 4, 2001
  2. Number of days that continuous water-quality monitors recorded concentrations of dissolved oxygen less than 3.0 milligrams per liter at three sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, water years 2000–2003
  3. Distribution of total nitrogen, nitrite plus nitrate, total ammonia plus organic nitrogen, and ammonia concentrations at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  4. Median concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate, ammonia, and total organic nitrogen at sites in the Threemile Creek Basin, Mobile, Alabama
  5. Distribution of total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, and dissolved orthophosphate at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  6. Median concentrations of suspended phosphorus and dissolved phosphorus at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  7. Distribution of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and dissolved orthophosphate ratios for sites in the Threemile Creek Basin, Mobile, Alabama
  8. Concentrations of (A) enterococci, (B) Escherichia coli, and (C) fecal coliform concentrations in water samples collected at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  9. Concentrations of (A) enterococci, (B) Escherichia coli, and (C) fecal coliform concentrations at three sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, December 13–15, 2001
  10. Concentrations of (A) enterococci, (B) Escherichia coli, and (C) fecal coliform concentrations at three sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, June 24–26, 2002
  11. Concentrations of (A) enterococci and (B) Escherichia coli concentrations at three sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, February 26–28, 2003
  12. Concentrations of (A) enterococci, (B) Escherichia coli, and (C) fecal coliform concentrations at three sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, September 13–16, 2003
  13. Relation between Escherichia coli and fecal coliform concentrations measured at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  14. Frequencies of detection for selected organic wastewater compounds in water samples from the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  15. Summary of organic wastewater compounds detected per sample for (A) total concentration (summation of 48 compounds) and (B) number of compounds detected
  16. The 10 most frequently detected organic wastewater compounds at each site in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  17. The 10 most frequently detected organic wastewater compounds in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  18. Relation between total concentration of organic wastewater compounds and total phosphorus, Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  19. Summary of the types of organic wastewater compounds detected per sample for (A) total concentration (summation of 48 compounds) and (B) number of compounds detected, Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  20. (A) Frequency of detection of organic wastewater compounds by general-use category and (B) percentage of total measured concentration of organic wastewater compounds by general-use category, Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  21. Frequencies of detection of selected organic wastewater compounds in water samples from the the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, and sites nationwide
  22. Benthic invertebrate taxa richness at selected sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000
  23. Relative abundance of major benthic invertebrate taxa at selected sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000
  24. Average U.S. Environmental Protection Agency national tolerance values for benthic invertebrate communities at selected sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000
  25. Shannon-Weaver diversity index values for benthic invertebrate communities at selected sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000
  26. Benthic chlorophyll a concentrations at selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, September 2000
  27. Benthic chlorophyll a concentrations at selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  28. Periphyton ash-free dry mass at selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, September 2000
  29. Periphyton ash-free dry mass at selected sites on Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  30. Periphyton taxa richness at selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2002
  31. Percentage of diatom taxa richness in each saprobic class for periphyton community samples collected from selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, September 2000
  32. Percentage of diatom biovolume in each saprobic class for periphyton community samples collected from selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, September 2000

Tables

  1. Description of surface-water sites selected for water-quality and biological sampling in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  2. Land–use characteristics in the watersheds of sampling sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  3. Rainfall summary for the Mobile Regional Airport and U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging station 02471013 (TM-1), Mobile, Alabama
  4. Population changes (1990–2000) in the watersheds of sampling sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  5. Number and type of water-quality, benthic invertebrate, and periphyton samples collected at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  6. Saprobic categories of diatoms and corresponding dissolved-oxygen concentrations and biochemical oxygen demand values
  7. Results of the Kruskal-Wallis test and the Tukey multiple-comparison test illustrating statistically significant (p < 0.05) differences for selected water-quality constituents at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  8. Instantaneous field measurements of water-quality properties at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003, and corresponding water-quality criteria
  9. Continuous measurements of water-quality properties at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, water years 2000–2003, and corresponding water-quality criteria
  10. Results of multiple-comparison tests on selected nutrients at surface-water sites in Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama
  11. Ambient water-quality criteria recommendations for rivers and streams in Nutrient Ecoregions IX and XII
  12. Statistical summary of enterococci, Escherichia coli, and fecal coliform concentrations at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  13. State and Federal standards and criteria for bacteria in surface water
  14. Exceedance frequencies for fecal-indicator bacteria detected at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  15. Summary of organic wastewater compounds detected in water samples collected in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  16. Detection frequencies and concentrations of selected organic wastewater compounds in water samples from the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama (2000–2003) and sites nationwide (1999–2000)
  17. Five most abundant benthic invertebrate taxa and the respective percentages of total abundance for each taxa at selected sites in Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000
  18. North Carolina biotic index values and associated water-quality conditions
  19. Periphyton chlorophyll a and ash-free dry mass concentrations at selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003
  20. Mean total algal cell density and mean percentage of total algal cell density in major algal groups in samples from selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2002
  21. Mean total algal biovolume and mean percentage of total algal biovolume in major algal groups in samples from selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2002

Appendix 1. Quality Control

1-1. Concentrations of nutrients, major ions, and selected organic wastewater compounds detected in blank samples in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003

Appendix 2. Water-Quality Samples

2-1. Summary of selected constituents at sampling sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003

2-2. Concentrations of selected organic wastewater compounds detected at sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2003

Appendix 3. Benthic Invertebrates and Periphyton

3-1. Benthic invertebrate taxa, percent abundance of each taxon, and total abundance at selected sites in Threemile Creek, Mobile, Alabama, July 2000

3-2. Periphyton taxa and cell density and biovolume by taxon for samples from selected sites in the Threemile Creek basin, Mobile, Alabama, 2000–2002


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