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Bioassessment and Biocriteria Program Status for Nebraska: Streams and Wadeable Rivers

State Program Contact

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Exit

Water Quality Standards

WQS Information
The link to Nebraska's WQS that are in effect for Clean Water Act purposes is provided. These are the WQS approved by EPA.
The state of Nebraska provided information and links to sections of their administrative code on designated aquatic life use, biological criteria, antidegradation as well as technical support documents and information on its bioassessment and biocriteria programs. These are included for your convenience and may or may not reflect the most recently EPA approved WQS. The following links exit the site Exit

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Designated Aquatic Life Uses
Nebraska uses a river basin, stream size, warm water vs. cold water and biotic communities based system

  • Warm water A
  • Warm water B
  • Cold water A
  • Cold water B 

Biological Criteria
__X__ Narrative statement
_____ Numeric
_____ No criteria

003.01J Biological Criteria
Any human activity causing water pollution which would significantly degrade the biological integrity of a body of water or significantly impact or displace an identified “key species” shall not be allowed except as specified in Chapter 2.

Antidegradation Policy
Use of biocriteria or bioassessment not included in antidegradation policy (PDF) (1 pg, 4 K)

Biological Assessment

What biological assemblages are used in the bioassessment program?
Benthic macroinvertebrates and fish

Are bioassessments used to support 303(d) listings?
Yes. Listing methodology: Nebraska Stream Biological Monitoring Program 2004-2008 (PDF) (138 pp, 3 MB)

How are assemblages used to make impairment decisions?
The fish and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages are both used to make impairment decisions. If either fish or benthic index has a poor rating, then the stream is listed as impaired.  If both of the indices have a rating of fair or above, a supportive listing is given to the stream. 

Other uses of biocriteria or bioassessment within the water quality program:
305(b) surface water condition assessments

Technical Support Information and Documents:

Reference condition:
The Stream Biological Monitoring Program sampling was first initiated in 1997 and has continued through the present program. Sampling was conducted on a five or six year cycle to cover the state and includes the 13 major river basins. The first statewide report (1997-2001) was completed in 2005. The first 5-year report was written to test fish and macroinvertebrate metrics that could be used to characterize the waters of the state and make beneficial use support assessments. This report represents the second statewide survey (2004-2008) of all 13 major water basins in the state and was written to verify that faunal metrics selected to characterize the streams were correct and suitable for future studies. The data was likewise used for the beneficial use support assessments.

Development of biocriteria involves the collection and interpretation of biological data –e.g. benthic macroinvertebrates, fish, and periphyton. During this process entities typically use biological metrics (usually aggregated into a multimetric index) and/or multivariate analysis to assess whether a waterbody is meeting its designated aquatic life use(s). The reference materials included below include standard operation procedures used in data collection, compilation, technical approaches used to develop biocriteria as well as its implementation procedures.

Technical reference material:
Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams and Wadeable Rivers: Periphyton, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, and Fish (Second Edition) EPA Number: 841-B-99-002

Stressor identification/causal analysis approach:
Not applicable.

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