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Chattooga River Watershed
Ecological/Sedimentation Project

US-EPA, Region 4, SESD, Athens, Georgia

Presented at
Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference,
Reno, Nevada, March 26-30, 2001


As an integral part of the comprehensive water quality investigation of the Chattooga River watershed, an ecological and sedimentological study was conducted on selected stream reaches within the study area. The objective of this study was to conduct a sediment yield study and determine if sediment was a primary cause of physical and biological impairment to streams within the watershed. As result of this study, accelerated sedimentation has been identified to be the leading determinant in loss of habitat and reduction in bedform diversity within the study area. Good correlation was observed between aquatic ecology and normalized total suspended solids (TSS) data. Based on overlaying the biological index on TSS normalized to discharge/mean discharge, TSS concentrations greater than 284 mg/l adversely affected aquatic macroinvertebrate community structure. However, based on historic regional suspended-sediment concentrations, a normalized TSS concentration of 58 mg/l or less during storm flow provides an adequate margin of safety and is protective of aquatic macroinvertebrates in the Blue Ridge physiography. Corresponding turbidity limits of 69 and 22 NTU established the threshold of biological impairment and margin of safety, respectively. Previously, a similar turbidity of 25 NTU has been recommended for stream restoration management plans. Relative to reference streams, impaired streams yielded higher bedload and suspended load. The results of this study showed that road density and associated sediment sources accounted for 51% of the total sediment loading.

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Chattooga River Watershed Ecological/Sedimentation Project
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