The foundation for SD1’s environmental initiatives is a holistic assessment program that includes in-stream water quality and biological monitoring throughout Northern Kentucky.
This data is used to inform local policies and regulations that are cost-effective in protecting the region’s water quality. Additionally, the monitoring data collected by SD1, as well as other entities, is used to develop detailed Watershed Characterization Reports and an overall Stream Condition Index for the region.
In-Stream Water Quality Sampling
Water quality data collected from streams can provide a comprehensive snapshot of a watershed which aids in the identification of potential sources of impairment. Typical parameters that are measured include:
- Dissolved oxygen
- pH levels
- Bacteria (E. coli)
- Total suspended solids
- Nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen)
The biological communities within a stream can be representative of watershed health. By assessing the presence or absence and abundance of particular groups of species, it is possible to determine the presence and extent of certain stressors or pollutants, such as erosion, sedimentation or toxic substances.
There are many methods used to assess the biological condition of streams. SD1 focuses on the quality of available habitat and the macroinvertebrate (i.e. aquatic insects) and fish communities.
The hydromodification component of the SD1 monitoring program focuses on measuring the physical stream channel responses that are primarily attributable to land-use conversion from undeveloped to developed. The altered flow regime associated with conventional urban development (i.e. hydromodification) leads to flashier streams, larger flow, excessive stream erosion and overall channel instability.
Accelerated bank erosion, channel widening and overall enlargement pose risks to adjacent public infrastructure (i.e. sewers, roads and bridges), as well as private property. These same actions can also cause water quality impairments (i.e. high Total Suspended Solids and sedimentation/siltation) and have adverse effects on aquatic biota such as fish and macroinvertebrate populations.
USGS/SD1 Continuous Monitoring Network
Through a cooperative agreement with the United States Geological Society (USGS), SD1 co-funds 13 continuous monitoring stations that measure stage at 15-minute increments and calculate discharge rates in watersheds throughout Northern Kentucky.