A site for sharing ways to protect the watershed that supplies your drinking water and habitat for wildlife and native plants and innumerable types of outdoor recreation.
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Center for Watershed Protection
Aquatic Life Declines at Early Stages of Urban Development
The Center for Watershed Protection has been collaborating with the US Geological
Survey's Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems research group to help interpret
and disseminate the study results to local watershed managers and planners so they
can base land use and management decisions on the best available science. A summary
report of the EUSE study findings is now available, along with short video podcasts,
as described in the summary below.
A new USGS report explains the effects of urban development on stream ecosystem
health. Surprisingly, aquatic insect communities show little, if any, initial resistance
to low levels of urban development that were previously thought to be protective
of aquatic life. The study showed, for example, that by the time a watershed reaches
about 10 percent impervious cover in urban areas, aquatic insect communities are
degraded by as much as 33 percent in comparison to aquatic insect communities in
The USGS determined the magnitude and pattern of the physical, chemical, and biological
response of streams to increasing urbanization and how these responses vary throughout
nine metropolitan areas: Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; Birmingham, AL; Atlanta,
GA; Raleigh, NC; Boston, MA; Denver, CO; Dallas, TX; and Milwaukee, WI.
Comparisons among the nine metropolitan areas show that not all urban streams respond
in a similar way. Land cover prior to urbanization can affect how aquatic insects
and fish respond to urban development and is important to consider in setting realistic
stream restoration goals in urban areas. Learn more about how stream ecosystems
respond to urban development from USGS reports and video podcasts on the USGS website:
The Center for Watershed Protection works to protect, restore, and enhance our streams,
rivers, lakes, wetlands, and bays. We create viable solutions and partnerships for
responsible land and water management so that every community has clean water and
healthy natural resources to sustain diverse life.
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