skip to main content | skip to footer
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Water Quality - Biological Assessment Branch

Water Quality

Web Content Display Web Content Display

Biological Assessment Branch

 The Biological Assessment Branch is charged with evaluating the water quality of streams and rivers using the biological communities that live there. The group is divided into two areas of expertise: fisheries, and benthic macroinvertebrates or benthos. These biological communities can reflect both long and short term environmental conditions given the variety of life cycles these organisms exhibit (from less than one to several years in duration).

Biocriteria have been developed using the diversity, abundance, and pollution sensitivity of the organisms that inhabit lotic (flowing) waterbodies in NC. One of five bioclassifications are typically assigned to each water body sampled: Excellent, Good, Good-Fair, Fair and Poor. These bioclassifications, which have been developed for major ecoregions, are used to assess the various impacts of both point source discharges and nonpoint source runoff.The resulting information is used to document both spatial and temporal changes in water quality, and to complement water chemistry analyses, ambient toxicity data, and habitat evaluations. In addition to assessing the effects of water pollution, biological information is also used to define High Quality or Outstanding Resource Waters, support enforcement of stream standards, and measure improvements associated with management actions. The results of biological investigations have been an integral part in North Carolina's basinwide monitoring program.

Web Content Display Web Content Display

Branch Programs

Benthic Macroinvertebrates

Benthic macroinvertebrates are composed of aquatic insects but also include: crustaceans such as crayfish; molluscs like mussels, clams and snails; and aquatic worms. Many of these organisms are associated with the bottom substrates of streams and rivers or along the submerged sides of the river channel . Many of the aquatic insects collected in freshwater habitats in North Carolina reside for long periods (from several months to three years) in their larval stage before emerging as an adult for a relatively short aerial or terrestrial existence. ESS biologists focus is on the aquatic stage of these organisms. Waters with Excellent or Good water quality will contain diverse, stable and pollution-sensitive communities of aquatic macroinvertebrates. Click here for a visual tour of the benthic macroinvertebrate standard qualitative collection procedure.

 

Fish Community Assessment

    Fish occupy the upper levels of the aquatic food web and are both directly and indirectly affected by chemical and physical changes in the environment. The Biological Assessment Branch employs a standard method for assessing streams' biological integrity by examining the structure and health of fish communities. Available data include: fish community raw data, fish community scores and ratings,and North Carolina fish distributions. Contact Bryn Tracy at 919.743.8474 for questions concerning fish community assessment..

     

 

Staff Contacts

Eric Fleek, Biologist Supervisor  Eric.Fleek@ncdenr.gov  919.743.8469
Steven Beaty, Benthic Biologist Steven.Beaty@ncdenr.gov 919.743.8472
Victor Holland , Benthic Biologist Victor.Holland @ncdenr.gov 919.743.8478
Larry Eaton, Benthic Biologist Larry.Eaton@ncdenr.gov 919.743.8470
Bryn Tracy, Fisheries Biologist   Bryn.Tracy@ncdenr.gov 919.743.8474
Michael Walters,  Benthic Biologist  Michael.Walters@ncdenr.gov  919.743.8468
VACANT, Technician   919.743.8453

 

Web Content Display Web Content Display

The mission of the Water Sciences Section is to provide the Division with accurate information pertaining to waters of the state. Excellent service along with water quality monitoring and certification programs and analytical laboratory analyses that provide scientifically defensible data are the section’s main avenues for accomplishing this mission. These activities support the management and protection of North Carolina’s water resources for the health and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina and the economic well-being of the state.  

 Water Sciences Section 1621 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1621

919.743.8400

38364 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.