Sweeney, B.W., D.B. Arscott, C.L. Dow, J.G. Blaine, A.K. Aufdenkampe, T.L. Bott, J.K. Jackson, L.A. Kaplan, and J.D. Newbold. 2006. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 25(4):1062–1067.
Distributing 4.5 billion liters of clean fresh water every day to >9 million New York City (NYC) and suburban residents and countless other users is an enormous task that is made even more difficult by the aspiration to supply that water without filtration. To accomplish that task with a sense of confidence requires adequate data to: 1) gauge the quality of water in the source streams, 2) measure changes in that quality over time, and 3) assess the factors that might contribute to future degradation. The primary goal of the Stroud Water Research Center’s large-scale enhanced water-quality monitoring project (the Project) described in the papers in this special series was to create a baseline of water quality and ecosystem health for the streams and reservoirs that provide drinking water to NYC and to relate current conditions to land use/cover. The results show that streams and rivers located west of Hudson River (WOH) deliver good to very good water to most of the receiving reservoirs. The project confirmed the eutrophic condition of the WOH Cannonsville reservoir and further linked that condition to nutrient inputs from the West Branch Delaware River. The project also confirmed that many streams located east of Hudson River (EOH) had fair to poor water quality and that streams in the Croton and Kensico watersheds were biologically and functionally degraded. Streams in some parts of the WOH region appear to be on a trajectory toward conditions already present in streams in the EOH region. Anthropogenic changes in land use from forested to agricultural in the WOH region have affected water chemistry, macroinvertebrate community structure, and stream function, although the impact is less than that caused by changes in land use from forested to urban in the EOH region. Understanding the processes of change in both regions should improve conservation, restoration, and best management practices by revealing the causes of problems, the extent and nature of those problems, and the type of landuse conditions that lead to water-quality degradation. The addition of novel parameters such as nutrient spiraling and whole-stream metabolism to traditional biomonitoring tools has established a new bridge between basic and applied research at the ecosystem level.