Freshwater resources in the Hoosier-Shawnee ecological assessment area
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Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-244. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 267 p.
The Hoosier-Shawnee Ecological Assessment Area contains 40 major watersheds with unique hydrological, ecological, and socioeconomic features. Depending on the watershed, major groundwater resources are a combination of sandstone, carbonate, and semiconsolidated or unconsolidated sand/gravel aquifers. Approximately 69,000 miles of streams flow through the assessment area, of which 60 percent are perennial and 14 percent are artificial or greatly altered (e.g., drainage ditches). Even though headwater streams represent the majority of stream miles and exert a strong influence on downstream processes, relatively little is known about their extent and condition within the region. Most stream riparian zones are either urban or agricultural; only 22 percent of watersheds in the assessment area contain streams with abundant forested riparian areas. More than 8,000 reservoirs have been constructed in the region; these provide important water supplies, recreational opportunities, and economic benefits, but they also potentially influence the ecological integrity of streams. Consistent with nationwide trends, wetland habitats are some of the most degraded and diminished freshwater resources in the region; only 2.8 percent woody and 0.3 percent herbaceous wetland vegetation remain in the assessment area. Water quality varies greatly across the region, with elevated nutrients and contaminants (e.g., heavy metals and organic compounds) exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regional standards in many of the systems. Most water in the region is used for power generation and public supply, with 16 times more surface water consumed annually than groundwater. Increased surface water and groundwater contamination and rising public and industrial demand may continue to compromise water quality and quantity within much of the assessment area. Predicted reductions in precipitation associated with global climate change may further compromise the limited water resources of the region.
KeywordsHoosier National Forest, Shawnee National Forest, water resources, fish, mussels, crayfish
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Whiles, Matt R.; Garvey, James E. 2004. Freshwater resources in the Hoosier-Shawnee ecological assessment area. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-244. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 267 p.