RESTON, Va. — A new USGS report describes how the health of our Nation’s streams is being degraded by streamflow modifications and elevated levels of nutrients and pesticides, according to a press release.

The national assessment of stream health was unprecedented in the breadth of the measurements — including assessments of multiple biological communities as well as streamflow modifications and measurements of over 100 chemical constituents in water and streambed sediments, stated the release.

"Healthy streams are an essential part of our natural heritage. They are important to everyone — not only for recreation and for public water supply and public health, but also for economic growth," said USGS acting Director Suzette Kimball. "A broad understanding of the complex factors that affect stream health across the Nation will aid us in making efficient, long term decisions that support healthy streams."

To assess ecological health, USGS scientists examined the relationship of the condition of three biological communities (algae, macroinvertebrates and fish) to man-made changes in streamflow characteristics and water quality, noted the release.

The ability of a stream to support these biological communities is a direct measure of stream health.

Read the entire press release here.