Nebraska Water Science Center
Water-Quality Monitoring in Lincoln, Nebraska
Since the turn of the last century, Lincoln city planners have been interested in the effect of urban development on water quality. The formation of Lancaster County Sanitary District Number 1 in 1891 was partly in response to growing health concerns from the sewage that drained into Salt Creek. Since then, many measures have been taken to reduce the impact of urban areas on streams in Lincoln and elsewhere, such as wastewater treatment plants and other projects to improve water quality. Nonetheless, urbanization continues to affect streams in many ways, including increased urban runoff, erosion and sedimentation, fertilizer (nitrogen and phosphorus),road salts, waterborne pathogens, heavy metals, and pesticides.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 is the foundation for stream-quality protection in the United States. Stream-quality protection has evolved over the years and currently, many streams are monitored to determine whether they are meeting established water-quality standards. If not, they are considered "impaired." One of the methods to assist in improving water quality is through the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs).
In Lincoln, many types of BMPs are used, including rain gardens and no/low-phosphorus fertilizer. These BMPs are intended to reduce stormwater and to improve the stream and lake quality in Lincoln as well as its downstream neighbors, from Waverly, Nebraska to New Orleans, Louisiana. In particular, focused BMP efforts are occurring in the Holmes Lake Watershed.
As part of these efforts, a collaborative study between the City of Lincoln, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, U.S. Geological Survey, the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality began in 2008 to monitor two Lincoln streams: one inside the Holmes Lake Watershed and one outside the watershed.
Monitoring site on an Antelope Creek tributary in Colonial Hills Park
Monitoring site on a Deadman's Run tributary in Taylor Park
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