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Schuylkill Project

Lofty Creek
Lofty Creek in the headwaters of the Little Schuylkill River

Our Schuylkill River project is an effort to describe stream water quality throughout the 1900-square mile Schuylkill River basin in southeastern Pennsylvania. We assess stream condition by sampling the macroinvertebrates (mostly insects, crustaceans, mollusks and worms) that live on the stream bottom. The presence of particular types as well as their relative abundances are combined with knowledge of the ability of the various types to withstand pollution to come up with a water quality "score" for each site. Water quality scores identify poor quality streams in need of mitigation, high quality streams worthy of special protection, and fair quality streams that may deserve intervention to prevent them from becoming poor quality streams.

Damselfly adult
Mayfly larva on stream bottom

This web site presents the results of 12 years of study, from 1996 to 2007. Included are data from 19 long-term study sites on major tributaries that are sampled each year. These sites provide a current and long-term assessment of watershed health throughout the basin. An additional 120 sites, located upstream from the original 19 sites and sampled in one year only, provide a more complete picture of conditions within the major tributaries within the Schuylkill basin. Throughout this web site, sampling sites are color coded to indicate water quality conditions, with blue signifying "good", yellow "fair" and red "poor".

The site is organized into pages as follows.

  • Introduction presents general information about the Schuylkill River, its location, history and importance to the area, as well as background on the use macroinvertebrates in stream water quality monitoring.
  • Report page links to downloadable, printer-ready versions of the project summary and appendices.
  • Sampling Methods gives background information on the study sites as well as details on sample collection and processing.
  • Data Interpretation gives specific information on what sort of data are generated and how they are analyzed.
  • Sampling Sites presents and overview of the basin, the location of our 19 long-term monitoring sites, and the various sub-basins for which we have additional data. This page also includes an alphabetical list of all 146 sites, with links to their pages and sub-basins. Six bulleted pages on the side bar beneath the Sampling Sites heading show detailed site locations, chart water quality scores and provide links to pages for individual sites within the following categories or sub-basins:
  • Individual pages for all 146 sites are linked to each site name listed in the pages above. These provide detailed information on the site's location, the watershed area and land use upstream of the site, water chemistry data, water quality score, and a list of the 10 most abundant macroinvertebrates found at the site. Each macroinvertebrate listed links to a photograph to help with identifications.
  • Contributors lists individuals and organizations contributing to the Schuylkill River project.
  • References provides details for the literature cited in the earlier pages.


Mayfly adult
Mayfly adult

The William Penn Foundation generously provided support throughout this study, including the development of this website.

The Wyomissing Foundation provided additional support during the initial phase of the study.

We are grateful for the dedication and effort of the student interns, and the insight and assistance from our collaborating organizations.

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