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USE OF STRESSOR IDENTIFICATION IN BENTHIC TMDLS

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Pp. 204-214 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations–II Proceedings of the 8-12 November 2003 Conference (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA), Publication Date 8 November 2003.  .(doi:10.13031/2013.15559)
Authors:   J. L. Walker, and T. Younos
Keywords:   Benthic macroinvertebrates, Stressor identification, TMDL, Best professional judgment

Biological assessments, particularly benthic macroinvertebrate surveys, are used to designate waters as impaired for not supporting the water’s aquatic life use. However, biological assessments do not identify the cause(s) of the impairment. A reliable stressor identification process is required to accurately identify the cause(s) of the water quality degradation that affects the benthic community. This paper describes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stressor identification process and demonstrates its use for TMDL development on six streams with benthic impairments. An interdisciplinary advisory panel of experts followed the EPA process and used their collective best professional judgment to identify the causes of impairment in the studied streams. The group first listed a set of candidate causes based on information obtained from benthic macroinvertebrate survey reports, published literature, visual surveys, and stakeholder input. Chemical and physical monitoring of the study streams provided additional evidence to support or eliminate the potential candidate causes. By using this information and the stressor identification process, the critical stressor(s) were identified, and six TMDLs were completed and approved by EPA.

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