Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 3 (1976).


Copyright 1976 by author(s).


A study to determine the influence of water quality upon the diversity and abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates in Salt Creek, Lancaster County, Nebraska was conducted during 1971-72. Water quality in the creek, as indicated by dissolved oxygen and conductivity levels, varies along the course of the creek and is poorest in the lower reaches where wastes from the city of Lincoln are discharged. The changes in water quality are reflected in the community structure and abundance of macro invertebrates in the creek; the highest community diversity occurred at the upper stations where water quality is unaffected by municipal wastes, while the lowest occurred at the stations immediately downstream from the Lincoln sewage treatment plant. Macroinvertebrates generally considered to be intolerant of pollution were confined to the stations upstream from the treatment plant outfall, while the downstream stations were dominated by those which are associated with polluted environments. Highly significant correlations were observed between average community diversity, dissolved oxygen and conductivity.


In 1971 the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission received a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to prepare a water quality management plan for the Salt Creek Basin. The Commission was subsequently joined in this effort by the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. Together they developed a detailed plan for controlling water pollution through the management of wastes from various sources in the Salt Creek Basin. One segment of the plan was concerned with present water quality in Salt Creek and its effect upon the bottom-dwelling organisms there. The Natural Resources Commission contracted with the University of Nebraska to do a study whose objectives were:

1) To determine the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling organisms living in polluted and non-polluted parts of Salt Creek.
2) To help define the suitability of the water for the various uses outlined in the Nebraska Water Quality Standards, such as the growth and propagation of fish and wildlife.
3) To establish baseline data to be used in evaluating the effectiveness of the management plan as it is implemented.