Ecological health conditions in Little Bear Creek Reservoir rated “fair” in 2017. The overall ecological health score for the reservoir has been in the “fair” range all years monitored.
The ecological health of Little Bear Creek Reservoir has been monitored using the same methodology since 1994. Ecological health evaluations focus on five indicators: dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, sediment quality, benthic macroinvertebrate community (bottom life), and the fish assemblage. TVA monitors one location on Little Bear Creek Reservoir, the forebay (Little Bear Creek River Mile 12.5), near the dam.
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>72 = Good
59-72 = Fair
<59 = Poor
As in previous years, dissolved oxygen rated “poor” in 2017. The lower water column had low dissolved oxygen concentrations during the summer months.
Chlorophyll rated “good”, which is typical for Little Bear Creek Reservoir. The exception was in 2005 when slightly elevated chlorophyll concentrations resulted in a “fair” rating for this indicator.
As in previous years, the fish community rated “good”. The number and variety of fish observed were consistent with long-term averages. A total of twenty-three fish species was collected in 2017. The most prevalent fish were bluegill, longear sunfish, and spotted bass. Catch rates of intolerant species (species known to require good water quality conditions) also were at healthy levels.
Bottom life rated “fair” in 2017. Ratings in previous years have varied between “fair” and “poor”. However, bottom life received a “good” rating in 2011 due to a higher abundance of organisms compared to other years, as well as the occurrence of some less tolerant individuals (e.g., Hexagenia mayflies).
Sediment quality rated “good” because no PCBs or pesticides were detected and concentrations of metals were within suggested background concentrations. Sediment quality typically rates “good” for Little Bear Creek Reservoir. Exception were in 2001 and 2011. In 2001, the concentration of arsenic in the sediment sample was slightly above suggested background levels, resulting in a “fair” rating. In 2011, PCBs were detected and the concentrations of arsenic and nickel were slightly above suggested background levels, resulting in a “poor” rating.
TVA maintains a program to examine contaminants in fillets of fish collected from TVA reservoirs and their major tributary streams on a rotational basis. The data collected from this program are distributed to the state officials who are responsible for placing or removing fish tissue consumption advisories on those bodies of water. For information on advisories currently in effect for Little Bear Creek Reservoir, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health.