Stream Biological Monitoring Program 2004-2008 Technical Report
This information is provided by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality  
to assist the public and regulated community .

Form #:  WAT170
Revised: 3/1/11

The Stream Biological Monitoring Report Program 2004-2008 Technical Report is provided above in PDF format. Below is the Executive Summary from the report:

The federal Clean Water Act requires states to develop programs to evaluate the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters and to adopt water quality standards to restore and maintain that integrity. In Nebraska, the Stream Biological Monitoring Program (SBMP) allows the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to assess the overall ecological condition of wadable streams and rivers. Specific stream characteristics (i.e. physical, chemical, and biological) are evaluated with respect to suitability for support of aquatic communities. This is done by directly measuring indicators of ecological health through detailed stream surveys of aquatic insect and fish communities, and additional waterbody characteristics. Data collected is assessed with site-specific metrics (i.e., measures of ecological health such as species diversity, abundance, etc…) to determine whether a waterbody supports the aquatic life designated use as defined in NDEQ’s, Title 117, Nebraska Surface Water Quality Standard.

Information provided by the SBMP is used in water quality management activities, including:
  • Documenting current statewide biological conditions in Nebraska’s streams to track water quality status and trends.
  • Identifying streams that do not attain their assigned environmental goals and are in need of restoration or remedial action.
  • Identifying exceptional stream reaches minimally influenced by human activities.
  • Verification that the faunal metrics used to characterize the streams are correct and suitable for future studies.
  • Providing accurate biological species distribution information.

The SBMP technical report is comprehensive statewide report of the biological data collection and corresponding ecological assessment results. This report is prepared every five to six years after sampling has been completed in all 13 major river basins following the current statewide basin rotation monitoring strategy.

Stream survey data collection procedures followed approved Quality Assurance Project Plans and sampling protocols. Biological community data was assessed using a set of index metrics developed specifically for the goals of this program, which the report outlines in detail. Scores obtained from the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) for fish and the Invertebrate Community Index (ICI) for aquatic insects are used to summarize and evaluate each collection site. Individual evaluations are compared to reference conditions for each ecoregion and streams are assigned a classification based on its similarity or dissimilarity. If the assessment results demonstrate that a stream does not support assigned beneficial uses for aquatic life, it is listed as an “Impaired Aquatic Community” in the 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies found in the NDEQ Surface Water Quality Integrated Report. The Integrated Report is prepared every two years and is available on the NDEQ website at

Results of the 2004-2008 SBMP Report
A total of 205 stream sites were surveyed during the statewide 2004-2008 SBMP. All 13 major river basins were sampled across all seven ecoregions in the state. Stream sites selected were classified as 25% cold water and 75% warm water.

IBI fish rating scores consisted of 75 excellent, 80 good, 20 fair, and 29 poor stream ratings and ICI aquatic insect rating scores had 18 excellent, 102 good, 53 fair and 30 poor stream ratings. These scores were within the range of previous studies outlined in the report “Nebraska Stream Classification Using Fish, Macroinvertebrates, Habitat, And Chemistry Evaluations From R-EMAP Data, 1997-2001”. Only the lowest ratings of either the IBI and ICI scores were used for the final stream classification rating. Based on these criteria, final stream classification ratings included nine as excellent, 87 as good, 50 as fair and as 57 poor.

Waterbodies are considered to be in support of their aquatic life designated use only if they receive a fair, good, or excellent overall rating. Any waterbody receiving a “poor” rating was considered to be “non-supporting” of the aquatic life designation and therefore should be added to the 303d state list for nonsupport streams. Exceptions are made for waterbodies impacted by low water, drought, floods and heavy scouring that temporarily have a negative influence on stream conditions