Klemow, Kenneth M. 2002. CORRELATING WATER QUALITY, VEGETATION, AND MACROINVERTEBRATES IN TWO AMD-IMPACTED WATERSHEDS. Contributed paper: Ecological Society of America meeting. Abstract: Ecological Society of America Abstracts 180-181.
The Newport and Nanticoke Creek watersheds occupy 36.2 and 19.6 sq. km. respectively in the anthracite mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania,. Both are impacted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and discharge into the Susquehanna River, which was designated as an American Heritage River in 1998. An assessment of both watersheds was carried out between November 2000 and September 2001 to determine the extent and severity of stream degradation. A variety of water-chemistry, vegetation, and macroinvertebrate parameters were examined at 22 sites in the Newport Creek watershed and 19 sites in the Nanticoke Creek watershed. Over 91% of the 15.4 km of stream length in the Newport Creek watershed was impacted by mining, while the extent of degradation in the Nanticoke Creek watershed was not quite as severe (70% of 14.7 km), but still significant. Damage occurred as dry stream channels, as well as streamflow that contained high concentrations of dissolved and suspended iron, creating deposits of iron hydroxide that impaired macroinvertebrate populations. A synthetic index was developed to express water quality, vegetation, and macroinvertebrates at each site. Regression analyses of the three indices revealed vegetation and macroinvertebrates to be most highly correlated (r2 = 0.48), while macroinvertebrates and water quality were, somewhat surprisingly, the least correlated (r2 = 0.32). Based on a composite of the three synthetic indices, ecosystem conditions were found to be poorer within the Newport Creek watershed. The implications of these findings for watershed restoration and assessment of other watersheds will be discussed.