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Methods for Comparing Water-Quality Conditions Among National Water-Quality Study Units, 1992-1995

By Robert J. Gilliom, David K. Mueller, and Lisa H. Nowell
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 97-589


CONTENTS

Foreword
Abstract
Introduction
Overview of Approach
Relative Ranking of Stream Water Quality
Relative Ranking of Ground-Water Quality
Comparison of NAWQA Results to Water-Quality Criteria
Application of Water-Quality Rankings and Criteria for Summarizing NAWQA Results
Summary and Conclusions
References Cited
Appendicies:
A: Characteristics of surface-water sampling sites in the first 20 NAWQA study units
B: Ground water studies and their characteristics
C: Nutrients included in chemical analysis of water samples and used in computing water-quality scores
D: Pesticide compounds included in chemical analysis of water samples and used in computing water-quality scores
E: Organochlorine pesticides and PCBs included in chemical analysis of bed sediment samples and used in computing water-quality scores
F: Semivolatile organic compounds included in chemical analysis of bed sediment samples and used in computing water-quality scores
G: Trace elements included in chemical analysis of bed sediment samples and used in computing water-quality scores
H: Volatile organic compounds included in chemical analysis of ground-water samples and used in computing water-quality scores
FIGURES:
  1. Map showing locations and names of the first 20 National Water-Quality Assessment study units
  2. Graph showing land-use characteristics of National Water-Quality Assessment stream-site basins compared with all basins in the conterminous United States for small basins (17 to 1,243 square kilometers)
  3. Graph showing land-use characteristics of National Water-Quality Assessment stream-site basins compared with all basins in the conterminous United States for large basins (1,244 to 221,497 square kilometers)
  4. Maps showing application of water-quality rankings and criteria comparisons for streams in the Central Columbia Plateau study unit
  5. Maps showing application of water-quality rankings and criteria comparisons for ground water in the Central Columbia Plateau study unit

TABLES:

  1. Characteristics of the first 20 National Water-Quality Assessment study units compared with the entire conterminous United States
  2. Distribution of stream sites and ground water study areas among National Water-Quality Assessment study units
  3. Water-quality characteristics and associated factors
  4. Water-quality scores and ranks for nutrients in stream water
  5. Water-quality scores and ranks for pesticides in stream water
  6. Water-quality scores and ranks for organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in bed sediment and tissue
  7. Water-quality scores and ranks for semivolatile organic compounds in bed sediment
  8. Water-quality scores and ranks for trace elements in bed sediment
  9. Water-quality scores and ranks for fish community degradation
  10. Water-quality scores and ranks for stream habitat degradation
  11. Water-quality scores and ranks for nitrate in ground water
  12. Water-quality scores and ranks for pesticides in ground water
  13. Water-quality scores and ranks for volatile organic compounds in ground water
  14. Water-quality scores and ranks for dissolved solids in ground water
  15. Water-quality scores and ranks for radon in ground water
  16. Aquatic-life criteria used for pesticides in surface water and human-health criteria used for pesticides in ground water
  17. Aquatic-life criteria used for organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in bed sediment
  18. Aquatic-life criteria used for semivolatile organic compounds in bed sediment
  19. Human-health criteria used for nitrite plus nitrate and dissolved solids in ground water
  20. Human-health criteria used for volatile organic compounds in ground water


    CONVERSION FACTORS AND ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
    ----------------------------------------------------------
                  Multiply	      By	  To obtain
    ----------------------------------------------------------
            kilometer (km)      0.6214        mile
    square kilometer (km2)	    0.3861	  square mile
    

    Temperature is given in degrees Celsius (°C) which can be converted to degrees Fahrenheit (°F) by the following equation: °F = (1.8 x °C) + 32

    Abbreviations and Acronyms

    gal/d, gallon per day
    µg/g, microgram per gram
    µg/kg, microgram per kilogram
    µg/L, microgram per liter
    mg/L, milligram per liter
    mg/L as N, milligram of nitrogen per liter
    pCi/L, picocuries per liter

    AET-H, apparent effects threshold-high
    AS, aquifer surveys
    AVHRR, Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
    CAS, Chemical Abstracts Service
    CCREM, Canadian Council of Resources and Environmental Ministers
    DWA, drinking-water aquifer
    ER-M, effects range-median
    FSV, factor summary value
    GCMS, gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy
    HA-L, lifetime health advisary
    HPLC, high-pressure liquid chromatography
    IBI, Index of Biotic Integrity
    IJC, International Joint Commission
    LUS, land-use studies
    MCL, maximum contaminant level
    NAWQA, National Water-Quality Assessment
    NM, national median
    PAH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
    PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls
    PEL, probable effects level
    PTD, mean point-to-tree distance for a reach, in meters
    RD, relative density of riparian vegetation
    RSD, risk specific dose
    SGW, shallow ground water
    SMCL, secondary maximum contaminant level
    SQAL, sediment-quality advisory level
    SQC, sediment-quality criterion
    SVOC, semivolatile organic compound
    USEPA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    USGS, U.S. Geological Survey
    VOC, volatile organic compound
    WQS, water quality score

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