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Nutrient Benchmark Development. Gary Welker, Ph.D. USEPA Region 7 Environmental Services Division. Nutrient Criteria - Background. Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America’s Waters (February, 1998)

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Nutrient benchmark development

Nutrient Benchmark Development

Gary Welker, Ph.D.

USEPA Region 7Environmental Services Division


Nutrient criteria background
Nutrient Criteria - Background

  • Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America’s Waters (February, 1998)

  • National Strategy for the Development of Regional Nutrient Criteria (USEPA Office of Water / Office of Science & Technology; June, 1998)


Key elements of the national nutrient strategy
Key Elements of the National Nutrient Strategy

1. Ecoregional and waterbody-type specific.

2. Technical guidance by waterbody-type.

3. Regional Technical Advisory Groups (RTAG) and National Nutrient Team.

4. Ecoregional nutrient criteria for nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorophyll a and turbidity (i.e. causal & response variables).

5. Nutrient criteria development plans submitted by States/Tribes by December 31, 2004.


Technical advisory groups
Technical Advisory Groups

  • National Nutrient Workgroup

    • USEPA Headquarters (Dr. Amy Parker), USEPA Regions, States, Universities

  • Region 7 Regional Technical Advisory Group (RTAG)

    • Federal, States, Tribes, Universities

  • Central Plains Center for BioAssessment

    • Kansas Biological Survey (University of Kansas)

    • Facilitate/Field Work/Data Base/Data Analysis

      Assist States/Tribes in Criteria Development


Regional technical advisory group rtag region 7
Regional Technical Advisory Group (RTAG)- Region 7 -

  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources

  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources

  • Kansas Department of Health & Environment

  • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality

  • Prairie Band of Potawatomi Indians

  • University of Missouri

  • Iowa State University

  • University of Kansas

  • Kansas State University

  • University of Nebraska

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service

  • US Geological Survey

  • US Environmental Protection Agency

  • Central Plains Center for BioAssessment


Regional databases region 7 rtag
Regional Databases(Region 7 RTAG)

  • Nutrient database

    • Raw records (>54,000) of chemistry parameters

    • Includes TN, TP, Chlorophyll-a, secchi, periphyton, phytoplankton

  • Biological database

    • Macroinvertebrate and fish data


Rtag mission statement
RTAG Mission Statement

  • The mission of the Region 7 Nutrient Workgroup is to develop scientifically defensible numeric nutrient benchmarks for lakes/reservoirs, streams/rivers and wetlands in the Central Great Plains (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri & Nebraska).


Rtag ground rules
RTAG Ground Rules

  • Nutrient benchmarks are to protect Streams & Rivers and down stream receiving waters against adverse impacts of cultural eutrophication (excess nutrient levels above natural or minimally impaired conditions).

  • Nutrient benchmarks are to be protective of aquatic life - Economics, technology, attainability, social values are not part of the benchmark development process.

  • Benchmarks developed by the RTAG are by group consensus and are developed for the purpose of assisting and providing guidance to States and Tribes in the development of their own nutrient criteria.


Need to protect the use
‘Need to Protect the Use’

  • Waters in which naturally occurring water quality and habitat conditions allow the maintenance of a wide variety of warm-water biota…


Region 7 rtag lake benchmark development approach
Region 7 RTAG Lake Benchmark Development Approach

  • Classification variables

  • Nutrient values

  • Benchmarks


Lake classification variables assessed by rtag included
Lake Classification Variables Assessed by RTAG included:

  • Ecoregions (Levels II, III, IV)

  • Lake type

    • Glacial, ox bows, sandpits, reservoirs, Sand Hills, etc.)

  • Depth

  • Turbidity

  • Surface Area

  • Retention time



Kansas reference values lake wetland monitoring report kdhe january 2001
Kansas Reference Values (Lake & Wetland Monitoring Report. KDHE. January 2001)

ER 25/26 = High Plains & SW Tablelands Ecoregion

ER 27 = Central Great Plains Ecoregion

ER 28 = Flint Hills

ER 40 = Central Irregular Plains Ecoregion

ER 47 = Western Corn Belt Plains Ecoregion


USEPA Ambient Water Quality Recommendations for Lakes and Reservoirs (Ecoregions that overlap Region 7)

ER IV = Great Plains Grass & Shrublands (Sand Hills & Flint Hills)

ER V = South Central Cultivated Great Plains (Western KS & NE)

ER VI = Corn Belt & Northern Great Plains (IA; Eastern NE; Northeast KS; Northwest MO)

ER VII = Glacial Dairy (Northeastern IA)

ER IX = SE Temperate Forested Plains & Hills (Northern MO & Eastern KS)

ER X = Texas-Louisiana Coastal & Miss. Alluvial Plains (Southeastern Missouri)

ER XI = Central & Eastern Forested Uplands (Ozarks)


Rtag next steps
RTAG Next Steps... Reservoirs

  • Stream & Rivers data analysis

  • Biological impairment

    • convergence of nutrients & biological regional data sets

  • Draft streams benchmarks

  • Lakes Document

  • Streams Document

  • Wetlands

    • inventory, classification, reference selection process, monitoring


Website and contact information
Website and Contact Information Reservoirs

  • USEPA website: http://epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/nutrient

  • N-STEPS website: http://n-steps.tetratech-ffx.com

  • Gary Welker, USEPA Region 7 Nutrient Coordinator

  • Center for BioAssessment Website

    • www.cpcb.ku.edu


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