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Integrating water quality management & landuse planning in a watershed context

26 X. Wang For

26 X. Wang For example, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) used both water chemistry and biological indicators to evaluate water quality and discovered that the amount of impaired waters was twice the amount if chemical indicators were used alone (OEPA, 1988). To detect the effects of human activities which were missed or underestimated by the conventional physical-chemical indicators, methods of biological assessment were developed in the 1970s and early 1980s (Norris and Norris, 1995; OEPA, 1987, 1989). Biological assessment of water quality is based on the assumption that a water body with biological integrity should have the ability to ‘support and maintain a balanced, integrated, adaptive community of organisms having a species composition, diversity, and functional organization comparable to that of the natural habitats within a region’ (Karr and Dudley, 1981). Therefore, those water bodies that have been impacted by human activities to various degrees should demonstrate changes in biological integrity. Since the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued guidelines for state environmental protection agencies to develop and implement biological assessment of surface-water quality (USEPA, 1990), biological assessment has been used in various aquatic environments, such as streams, lakes and estuaries. Various organisms including fish, insects, macroinvertebrates, and algae (especially diatoms) have been used in these studies, using population size, species composition or community structure, and various activities as indicators of water quality (Angermier and Karr, 1986; Elnaggar et al., 1997). Biological assessment of water quality has proven to be a useful complementary tool to the conventional physicalchemical assessment for a wide variety of human impacts, including urban development (Khan, 1991; Norris and Norris, 1995). OEPA has been a leader in creating biological criteria as the operative standards for evaluating water-quality status by developing Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) for fish communities and Invertebrate Community Index (ICI) for invertebrates. Although the impacts of human activities on environment have been discussed and debated extensively within conceptual and moral contexts, there is much need for more empirical analyses. This paper presents a study exploring the spatial dependence of water quality measured with water chemistry, biological and habitat indicators and land uses, using spatial statistical analyses based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), in the Little Miami River (LMR) watershed, OH. After examining the complexity of water-quality indicators and the relationship between the quality of receiving rivers and land uses in the watershed, the significance of integrating water-quality management and land-use planning is discussed. Although the data availability limits the size of data set used in the study, the results reveal some patterns that are too significant to be ignored in watershed management. Study-area The Little Miami River watershed is located in southwest Ohio, adjacent to the greater metropolitan Cincinnati area (Figure 1). The LMR drains an area of 4550 square kilometers and has a main stem length of 170 km. The northern half of the watershed is located in the Eastern Corn Belt Plains ecoregion (Omernik, 1988), which is characterized by level to gently sloping land. Coarse glacial deposits (e.g. gravel, cobble, and boulders) dominate substrates in this region. The southern half of the watershed is located in the Interior Plateau ecoregion and is characterized by higher gradient streams with bedrock (limestone and shale) substrates. According to the land-use data compiled by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the LMR watershed is primarily dominated by cropland and pasture (71Ð0%). The second largest land use is wooded area (22Ð8%) with the urban land as the third (4Ð2%). The largest urban areas in the watershed are on the western side, which forms the eastern boundary of the growing metropolitan areas from Dayton to Cincinnati, OH. The LMR watershed contains a major recreational area and the most rapidly growing part of the state of Ohio. During the period from 1990–1997, population in four of the five counties which make up the majority of the LMR watershed increased by a range of 15–25%, compared to state wide increase of only 3Ð1%. Projected population growth in this area will take the Cincinnati Standard Metropolitan Area (SMA) to over 2 000 000

Water-quality and land-use planning 27 N Springfield CLARK MADISON BUTLER HAMILTON MONTGOMERY Dayton TURTLE CR WARREN LITTLE MIAMI R GREENE CAESAR CR STONELICK CR LITTLE MIAMI R CLINTON LITTLE MIAMI R TODD FK LITTLE MIAMI R EFK FAYETTE HIGHLAND Cincinnati CLERMONT BROWN 50 0 50 kilometers Figure 1. Study area: Little Miami River Watershed, OH, USA. Little Miami River (...); Little Miami River Barin (—); urban area, . by the year 2000. As a result, development pressure in the basin is extreme. The LMR is a designated National and State Scenic River as well as an Exceptional Warmwater Habitat. The river is biologically diverse in fish, mussels, macroinvertebrates, and algae. An OEPA study indicated that although total annual loading from point sources has reduced since 1983 with wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) upgrades the cumulative total amount of pollutants still exceeds the assimilative capacity of the LMR on the upper river. Signs of stress are evident in higher rates of deformities, fin erosion, lesions, and external tumors, known as DELT anomalies in fish; and high soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) in the river segments dominated by WWTP effluents (OEPA, 1995). Data This study analyzed hydrographic, land uses and water-quality data from various sources Table 1. Data and data sources Data type Data collection Data time source Water chemistry 1992–1996 USEPA Fish (IBI) 1993 OEPA Macroinvertebrate (ICI) 1993 OEPA River habitat (QHEI) 1993 OEPA IFD sites 1992 USEPA TRI sites 1987–1995 USEPA WWTP discharge points 1988 USEPA 1:100 000 scale 1994 USEPA river network Land use/land cover 1994 ODNR (25-m resolution) as shown in Table 1. The water chemistry data were from STORET, a uniform data collection and reporting system maintained by USEPA, containing data describing surface and ground water quality for North American waterways (USEPA, 1992). Conventional pollutant data for the watershed were retrieved for 1992–1996 to ensure compatibility with biological and habitat data (collected in 1993). The indicators include dissolved oxygen

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