Critical Elements of State Bioassessment Programs: A Process to Evaluate Program Rigor and Comparabi...
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Critical Elements of State Bioassessment Programs: A Process to Evaluate Program Rigor and Comparability 2012 SWPBA Conference. Lake Guntersville S.P. Guntersville, AL November 14, 2012. Chris O. Yoder Center for Applied Bioassessment & Biocriteria Midwest Biodiversity Institute

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Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Critical Elements of State Bioassessment Programs: A Process to Evaluate Program Rigor and Comparability

2012 SWPBA Conference

Lake Guntersville S.P.

Guntersville, AL

November 14, 2012

Chris O. Yoder

Center for Applied Bioassessment & Biocriteria

Midwest Biodiversity Institute

http://www.midwestbiodiversity.org


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

EPA “Primer” Released in 2011

  • A very general guide for state programs - not a technical manual.

  • Examples of varying “levels” of state program uses of bioassessment info.

  • Critical technical elements are highlighted.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Key Concepts

Accuracy: Biological assessments should produce sufficiently accurate delineations to minimize Type I and II assessment errors.

Comparability:technically different approaches should produce comparable assessments in terms of condition ratings, impairment thresholds, & diagnostic properties.

Comprehensiveness: biological response is evaluated in conjunction with other stressor/exposure information to understand the key limiting factors & spur mgmt. actions.

Cost-Effectiveness:having reliable biological data to support management decisions outweighs the intrinsic costs of development and implementation (NRC 2001).


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Aquatic Life Use

ALUs inherently “drive” the determination of status & management responses, thus they are a critical determinant of overall program effectiveness.

Definition:

A designation (classification) assigned to a waterbody based on the aquatic assemblage that can realistically be sustained given the regional reference condition and the level of protection afforded by the applicable criteria.

potential

How will (do) we assure accuracy in the process of setting and measuring attainment & attainability of ALUs?


We have some questions about one size fits all bioassessment thresholds

We have some questions about “one-size-fits-all” bioassessment thresholds

?

Single “Biocriterion”

?

Is a single statewide threshold an effective restoration or protection goal for all rivers and streams?

x

y

Non-reference


Tiered approach

“Exceptional” uses assure protection of existing high quality & preserve actual improvements

“Modified” uses where “legacy” modifications preclude CWA goal attainment (UAA required).

CWA “Minimum”- the principal restoration goal

“Tiered” Approach

Exceptional

Good

Fair

Poor

Very poor

Non-reference


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Level 4

Level 4

Level 3

Level 3

Level 2

Level 2

Level 1

Level 1

100

100

1

1

Natural

Natural

Condition

Condition

Excellent

Excellent

Pass

Pass

+

+

Minimal

Minimal

2

2

Changes

Changes

?

Good

Good

3

3

Evident

Evident

Changes

Changes

BIOLOGICAL CONDITION GRADIENT (BCG)

BIOLOGICAL CONDITION GRADIENT (BCG)

4

4

Moderate

Moderate

Changes

Changes

Fair

Fair

?

5

5

Major

Major

Changes

Changes

Fail

Fail

-

-

6

6

Severe

Severe

0

0

Changes

Changes

Poor

Poor

CAPACITY TO EXPRESS INCREMENTALCONDITION

(RESOLUTION OF ASSESSMENT)

HIGHEST

LOWEST

The capacity to measure incremental condition along the y-axis is a critical need for this process.

Desirable for biological assessment tools to express 5-6 increments of condition – a critical need for refined ALUs and to spur management beyond pass/fail responses.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Process initiated in 2002; developed via regional pilot in 2003-4; applied as formal program evaluation since 2004.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

State/Tribal Program Evaluation: Key Steps

  • On-site evaluation of state and tribal bioassessment program, facilities, and capacities (2-3 days each).

  • Interactive interview with state/tribal program managers and staff – includes bioassessment and WQS programs at minimum.

  • Systematic compilation and analysis of all technical & programmatic aspects (methods, indicators, WQS (ALUs).

  • Assess capacity to support all water quality management programs.

  • Documents program strengths and fosters a continuous improvement process.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

The Critical Elements process is one part of the overall program evaluation.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

22 States Evaluated Since 2004:

Region I: CT,ME,RI,MA,NH,VT

Region IV: AL,FL

Region V: IL,IN,MI,MN,WI,OH

Region VI: NM,TX,OK*

Region VII: MO,IA

Region VIII: CO,MT

Region IX: AZ,CA

plus one Tribe & 3 Federal Labs**

*- scheduled in 2013

**- U.S. ACE-LTRMP; U.S. EPA-GRE; U.S ACE-ERDC

Reviews are conducted at the request of the State and/or EPA Region


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

New CE document revision employs modified element terminology – process & content are essentially unchanged.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

  • Index Period

  • Spatial Resolution

  • Natural Classification

  • Reference Site Selection

  • Reference Condition

States consistently score highest for methods elements

Design

  • Taxonomic Resolution

  • Sample collection

  • Sample processing

  • Data Management

Elements having the most direct relationship to BCG concepts & attributes

Methods

10.Ecological Attributes

11.Discriminatory Capacity

12.Stressor Association

13.Professional review

Interpretation

Critical (Key) Technical Elements

Dependent on Other Elements

Foundation Elements

Building Blocks


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Thresholds for Determining Levels of Rigor: Max. Loss of Points Allowed

LEVEL OF RIGOR

FOUNDA-TION

BUILDING BLOCKS

DEPEN-DENT

MIN. SCORE

%CE Score

4-1-1-14994%

3-3-3-34383%

2-6-6-63465%

1---<34<65%


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

What Do the Levels Mean?

Level 1produces general assessments - not amenable to supporting most tasks i.e., status, severity/magnitude, causal associations.

Level 2 includes pass/fail to multiple condition assessments (3-4 categories); capable of general causal determinations.

Level 3 is capable of incremental condition assessment along the BCG and for most causal associations; single assemblage limitations.

Level 4 provides full program support & reasonably robust, accurate, & complete assessments including scientific certainty, accuracy, relevancy of condition, severity & extent, and causal associations.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Checklist is completed with state staff – consensus based process


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

Recommendations acknowledge in progress improvements and can be used to develop a plan for making specific program improvements aimed at elevating the overall level of rigor.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

The principal product of the review process is a technical memorandum that communicates program strengths and documents specific areas for improvement. These have evolved since 2004 from “a few” pages to 40-50 pp.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

State CE & ALU Status

CE LevelRefined ALU1In DevelopmentNone

Level 4 [2]2--

Level 3+ [3]12-

Level 3 [5]-32

Level 2 [11]--12

Level 1 [1]---

Totals [22]3514

1 – Biologically based ALUs in WQS.


Chris o yoder center for applied bioassessment biocriteria midwest biodiversity institute

L2

L4

What really matters – how states use M&A and Refined ALUs to support WQ management decisions and set program direction.


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