Regional Stream Quality Assessments

Study regions MSQA Region SESQA Region PNSQA Region

How is stream ecology affected by chemical and physical stressors in small streams? The USGS is addressing this question through studies of relations between stressors and stream ecology across large regions of the United States. Click on a region on the map to the left to learn more and access data on water and sediment quality of streams.


Assess stream ecology and habitat; concentrations of contaminants, nutrients, and suspended sediment in water and streambed sediment; toxicity of water and streambed sediment; surrounding land use.

Assess relations between chemical and physical stressors and stream ecology.

Identify and evaluate the natural and anthropogenic factors in the watershed that affect stressors and stream ecology.

Develop models and management tools to predict concentrations of contaminants, nutrients, and suspended sediment, and stream ecology in the region.

Study Design

The Regional Stream Quality Assessment (RSQA) program focuses on a different region of the U.S. each year—the Midwest (2013), the Southeast (2014), the Pacific Northwest (2015), and the Northeast (2016). Future regions for study are to be determined.

Each study comprises about 100 sites on small (wadeable) streams. Samples for analysis of chemical constituents are collected weekly during a 10-week spring/summer index period. The water-quality index period culminates with an ecological survey of habitat, algae, benthic invertebrates, and fish at all sites, and collection of streambed sediment for chemical analysis and toxicity testing.

Data are used to assess water quality and ecological conditions and support statistical modeling of factors that affect those conditions.


Pete Van Metre, RSQA Project Chief
(512) 927-3566

Jeff Frey, MSQA Project Manager
(317) 290-3313

Celeste Journey, SESQA Project Manager
(803) 750-6141

Jennifer Morace, PNSQA Project Manager
(503) 251-3229

Rich Sheibley, PNSQA Project Manager
(253) 552-1611

Karen Murray, NESQA Project Manager
(518) 285-5617

Jim Coles, NESQA Project Manager
(603) 226-7845