Stream Identification and Assessment

Stream identification is rarely as simple as looking for the blue lines on a map. Practices to identify and assess streams vary throughout the United States. A lot can change between different State and Federal agency jurisdictions. In order to do these types of assessments, it is necessary to have knowledge of specific methods for determination of jurisdiction and flow regime.

An identified ephemeral stream in Harlan Co., KY

Flow regimes can include perennial, intermittent and ephemeral flow. Depending on the location, season and recent weather, these regimes can be difficult to differentiate and the streams themselves may be hard to recognize. For example, this stream in Harlan Co., KY only carries flow in response to rainfall. Differing agencies on the State and Federal levels may treat an aquatic resource such as this in different ways.

Another factor is policy change. Legal jurisdiction over aquatic features can vary based on the current policies.

BSC is dedicated to being up to date with the current policies of State and Federal agencies in order to make accurate and efficient determinations. The staff has practiced a variety of different assessments to determine the flow regimes and functionality of aquatic resources throughout multiple states. BSC works hard to ensure that various permitting processes are accomplished successfully.

Using In-stream Structures for Stream Reconstruction

Many methods are utilized in the process of restoring a stream. The complete reconstruction of a stream can bring the work of builders, engineers, GIS professionals and biologists together to create a natural stream design.

Installation of in-stream structures is very important to create wildlife habitat and prevent erosion while maintaining aesthetics. In-stream structures can include: deflectors, cross-vanes, weirs, step pools and log jams. These structures can be used to direct stream flow, dissipate flow energy, and create pools and other habitats for aquatic species.

These native boulders were used to create in-stream structures for a stream reconstruction project in Letcher Co., Ky.

Several elements of stream restoration can be seen in this image: The boulders concentrate flow down the center of the channel to reduce bank erosion. Cross-vanes reduce velocity and add diversity to the water flow. Meanwhile, large local woody debris was placed throughout the reach to provide amphibian habitat and food to macroinvertebrates in the form of detritus as they decompose.

BSC has been involved in all aspects of stream restoration including the design and monitoring of in-stream structures for reconstructed streams.

Riparian Zone Planting for Stream Restoration

Riparian zones include the plant communities along stream and river banks. Riparian zone health directly affects stream health by preventing erosion and promoting habitat biodiversity. Riparian zone plantings are integral, and often required, for stream mitigation, restoration, and enhancement. Plant species of all strata can be used to help create a healthy riparian zone. Species selection is based on ecosystem, wildlife benefit, cost effectiveness, and availability.

This Pine sapling was planted along with Cherry and Oak saplings to promote native biodiversity in the riparian zone of a restored stream in Knox Co., Ky. These trees will also provide food and shelter for local wildlife.

BSC has helped to plan, implement, coordinate and monitor many riparian zone plantings in order to re-establish healthy stream ecosystems in impacted areas. A healthy riparian zone promotes stream health through canopy cover, nutrient cycling, invasive species prevention and much more.

Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits (ARAP)

Who needs an ARAP/401WQC in Tennessee?

According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation website:

Persons who wish to make an alteration to a stream, river, lake or wetland must first obtain a water quality permit. Physical alterations to properties of waters of the state require an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) or a §401 Water Quality Certification (§401 certification). Examples of stream alterations that require a permit from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources (division) include:

  • Dredging, excavation, channel widening, or straightening
  • Bank sloping; stabilization
  • Channel relocation
  • Water diversions or withdrawals
  • Dams, weirs, dikes, levees or other similar structures
  • Flooding, excavating, draining and/or filling a wetland
  • Road and utility crossings
  • Structural fill

A federal permit may also be required from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for projects that include the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. including wetlands. This permit is called a §404 permit. When a §404 is required from the Corps, a §401 certification must first be obtained from the division. A §401 certification affirms that the discharge would not violate Tennessee’s water quality standards. The application process for a §401 certification is the same as the ARAP process.

General Permits are developed and maintained by the division to provide a streamlined, expedited means of authorizing projects that singularly or cumulatively propose minor impacts to water resources. 


Implementation of some types of conservation practices on agricultural land requires coverage under TDEC’s Construction General Stormwater Permit (CGP) and/or ARAPs. In an effort to streamline this permitting process for agencies invloved, a fact sheet was cooreratively developed to help farmers, landowners and other program participants to determine when a permit is needed or not.

Biological Systems Consultants, Inc. can provide support for the ARAP process.

ARAP STREAM, ARAP, TDEC
EXAMPLE OF STREAM REQUIRING ARAP

Wastewater Discharge Permit (KPDES)

According to the Kentucky Division of Water all discharges to waters of the Commonwealth require a permit through the Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES).  Such permits include effluent limitations that are developed from technology-based and water quality-based criteria.  Our team of technicians can provide General and Individual Permitting and compliance services to help you navigate your project needs in a cost efficient manner.

Floodplain Permitting

As required by Kentucky Revised Statute 151.250, stream construction permits are required for any development occurring in, along, or across a stream. Typical projects include, but are not limited to, dam construction or maintenance, stream crossing projects (excluding KYTC), residential or commercial development, fill, stream bank stabilization, channel realignment, or impoundments. Contact us today or request a quote for your project.

NPDES Permit Compliance

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits are required for various projects to monitor water quality leaving a site and protect the Nation’s water resources. NPDES Permitting and Compliance is provided by our team of technical review staff and data managers. Contact us today for General or Individual NPDES permit needs for your project.

Archaeological Survey

Archaeological survey services are performed by our qualified archaeologist and additional cultural resource management services can be provided to walk you through all stages of your Section 106 archaeological survey needs.

Phase 1 Archaeological Survey Shovel Test Pit Profile
Shovel Test Profile

Tennessee Stream Quantification Tool (SQT)

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation finalized their Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) November 11, 2018. This tool is proposed to replace the 2004 mitigation guidelines.

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). (2018). Tennessee Stream Quantification Tool: Data Collection and Analysis Manual, TN SQT v1.0. Nashville, TN: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. )

2019 Macroinvertebrate Surveys

The Kentucky Division of Water Spring Sampling Index period for headwater stations (<5 square miles of drainage) begins Friday February 15, 2019. Benthic sampling can begin that day and continue through May 31st. Contact us today for a quote for your 2019 project needs.

Tennessee Hydrologic Determination (HD)

We recently completed another hydrologic determinations (HD) in Campbell County, in the State of Tennessee for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) . These are required by Tennessee law and are conducted by our trained field staff. These determinations use a combination of primary and secondary field indicators for the assessment. The secondary indicators include assess geomorphology, hydrology, and biology related characteristics within the watercourse to identify if it is a wet weather conveyance.

We are now preparing the Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) for the streams identified within the site boundary and also preparing the Nationwide Permit (NWP) Application for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.

Hydrologic Determination – Tennessee

We recently completed multiple hydrologic determinations in the State of Tennessee. These are required by Tennessee law and are conducted by our trained field staff. These determinations use a combination of primary and secondary field indicators for the assessment. The secondary indicators include assess geomorphology, hydrology, and biology related characteristics within the watercourse to identify if it is a wet weather conveyance.

Contact us today or review our other services.

Jurisdictional Determination – Whitley County, Kentucky

Jurisdictional Determination projects were conducted at these Kentucky sites in the last couple months. One project was determined to not require a permit while the other was found to contain one jurisdictional intermittent stream channel.

Jurisdictional Determinations are conducted by BSC personnel in support of the requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to identify “waters of the U.S.” as identified by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Field surveys for the determination were conducted in accordance with the 1987 USACE Wetlands Delineation Manual (USACE, 1987) and the Final Regional Supplement for the Piedmont and Eastern Mountains Region (USACE, 2012). BSC investigators also evaluate the potential for federal jurisdiction under Section 404 of the CWA over aquatic features in the study area based on USACE revised guidance published December 2, 2008. In addition we conduct determinations in accordance with the new “waters rule” that is now in effect in 26 states.

Kentucky contains seven Level III ecoregions. These ecoregions were defined by similarities in geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The proposed project area is located within the Central Appalachians ecoregion (69) which drains 23,698 square miles. Specifically, the project is within the Level IV ecoregion 69e (Cumberland Mountain Thrust Block) which encompasses 1,083 square miles. The topography in this area is characterized as highly dissected, hilly and mountainous plateau with steep ridges, very narrow ridge tops, narrow valleys, and deep coves. 69e contains elevations ranging from approximately 980’- 4,139’ in Kentucky and contains streams with high gradients, waterfalls, many riffles, few pools, and cobble or boulder substrates (Woods et al., 2002).

Contact us today to discuss your upcoming project needs.

Kentucky Drone Services

Kentucky Drone Services are provided by our FAA certified drone pilots. Our EcoDrones can provide a wide variety of site assessment data including Thermal Imagery, Low Elevation Video Data, Construction Monitoring or Surveillance, Aerial Imagery, Spill Monitoring and Assessment, Legal Exhibits, and a wide variety of other environmental or ecological habitat assessment or other ecological studies using drones. Contact us today or request a quote for Kentucky Drone Services. We specialize in tailoring our projects to meet specific needs. Read more here.

Indiana Bat Surveys

Indiana Bat Surveys are conducted by our certified bat biologists. This bat survey for a planned resource extraction site (surface and underground highwall/auger coal mining) mist net and acoustic sampling was employed. Prior to sampling a summer and winter habitat assessment was performed to identify the amount of and potential for habitat presence. This Indiana Bat Survey (Whitley County) was performed on an approximately 120 acre tract of land was surveyed and clearance was recommended due to no captures of Threatened or Endangered species. Biological Systems Consultants’ bat survey team is equipped to take on all of your bat survey needs. Our staff is fully permitted and qualified to conduct surveys for the endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis), threatened Northern Long Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and endangered Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens) throughout much of their range, and has extensive experience with habitat assessments, summer and fall mist-net surveys and mine portal surveys, and acoustic monitoring and analysis. If you have any questions about your Section 7 ESA compliance or the new 4(d) rule issued for the Northern Long Eared bat, or have been requested to address bats on your project for any reason, please give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through the process and take care of all your bat survey needs. Contact us or request a quote today.  See additional services here or read more about this topic here.

Indiana and Northern Long-eared Bat Surveys

Indiana and Northern Long-eared Bat Surveys

Biological Systems Consultants’ bat survey team is equipped to take on all of your bat survey needs. Our staff is fully permitted and qualified to conduct surveys for the endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis), threatened Northern Long Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and endangered Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens) throughout much of their range, and has extensive experience with habitat assessments, summer and fall mist-net surveys and mine portal surveys, and acoustic monitoring and analysis. If you have any questions about your Section 7 ESA compliance or the new 4(d) rule issued for the Northern Long Eared bat, or have been requested to address bats on your project for any reason, please give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through the process and take care of all your bat survey needs.

Contact us or request a quote today.

Indiana and Northern Long-eared Bat Surveys
Mist Net Station

Aerial Ecological Assessments

Aerial ecological assessments using the newest technology (EcoDrones) available to us we have now integrated aerial imaging into our list of services. Our custom built EcoDrones (UAVs, sUAS) allow us to capture low-elevation high resolution color video or still photos for ecological assessments of watersheds. This allows us to further document ecological resources in a way we have not been previously capable. Environmental assessments will never be the same.

Using drone technology we can provide ecological assessments using low-elevation high-resolution imagery of the ecosystem within a project area or site. Restoring and maintaining the natural environment continues to be an important issue.  BSC specializes in helping clients solve the challenges of growing their businesses while addressing environmental concerns.

We conduct ecological assessments including biological, aquatic, fish, bird, plant, tree, wetland, stream habitat, and other natural resource assessments. BSC provides expertise in both water resources and aquatic systems management, which requires the understanding  of input and output relationships between water systems and their its influence on natural processes. We develop client specific solutions that protect sensitive resources and infrastructure including roads, wetland habitat, rivers, streams, recreational facilities, and infrastructure.

Our client was looking to open a new operation, and hired BSC to perform a preliminary evaluation on an area encompassing 2,000 acres. Our study identified the potential of the proposed mines impacts to archaeological resources, streams and wetlands, prepared a stream restoration plan for the SMCRA permit, a jurisdictional determination or the Corps of Engineers (section 404), and a Section 401 (Water Quality Certification) for the State of Kentucky. The Corps permit was able to be avoided by revising the footprint of the permit while still achieving an economically beneficial project.

 

Tennessee Hydrologic Determination

Tennessee Hydrologic Determination (HDT) and Jurisdictional Determinations (JD) are conducted by our trained field staff and follow the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Pollution ControlGuidance For Making Hydrologic Determinations. This is required by law within the state of Tennessee under the following statute.

The following is taken from the TN statute:

Public Chapter No. 464 PUBLIC ACTS, 2009 1
STATE OF TENNESSEE
PUBLIC CHAPTER NO. 464
SENATE BILL NO. 632
Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 69-3-103, is amended by
adding the following language as new, appropriately designated subsections:
( ) “Wet weather conveyance” means, notwithstanding any other law or
rule to the contrary, man-made or natural watercourses, including natural
watercourses that have been modified by channelization:
(1) That flow only in direct response to precipitation runoff in their
immediate locality;
(2) Whose channels are at all times above the groundwater table;
(3) That are not suitable for drinking water supplies; and
(4) In which hydrological and biological analyses indicate that,
under normal weather conditions, due to naturally occurring ephemeral or
low flow there is not sufficient water to support fish, or multiple
populations of obligate lotic aquatic organisms whose life cycle includes
an aquatic phase of at least two months;

( ) “Obligate lotic aquatic organisms” means organisms that require
flowing water for all or almost all of the aquatic phase of their life cycles;

( ) “Stream” means a surface water that is not a wet weather conveyance;

( ) “Watercourse” means a man-made or natural hydrologic feature with a
defined linear channel which discretely conveys flowing water, as opposed to
sheet-flow;

Contact us or request a quote for your hydrologic determination today.

Kentucky Cultural Resource Management

Kentucky Cultural Resource Management Services include historic structures survey related to Section 106 compliance. This historic structures survey was conducted to identify any potential cultural historic resources that might potentially be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.The below resource was identified and evaluated during the project. To see a list of all of our services go here. Contact us or request a quote today.

 

Kentucky Cultural Resource Management

 

Kentucky Cultural Resource Management

Geographic Information System – GIS

Geographic Information System – GIS  projects are performed by our GIS specialists. Biological Systems Consultants gathers data for related mapping, design, and integration into many types of projects including mining related projects, invasive species studies, eel grass assessments, stream restoration, aggregate and coal stockpiles, construction , environmental assessments, cumulative impact assessments, archaeological surveys, and many other types of projects. GIS provides us the ability to analyze, gather, and organize data.  GIS technology assists our clients in accomplishing operations and maintenance tasks more quickly and efficiently. Our GIS technicians work closely with staff to develop a final product that meets individual project needs within the budget.

Biological Systems Consultants uses the latest GIS and drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) technology to collect and develop geographic data for your projects. Our GIS technicians are ESRI trained and also utilize technology such as GPS and field data collectors to enhance field data acquisition, which allows us to provide comprehensive service to meet all of your needs.

See additional services here.