A Rapid Bioassessment Approach for Integrating Biological Data into TMDL Development for Organic Enrichment of streams in Urbanizing Watersheds

Project Staff: 

Principal Investigator: Leonard Ferrington Jr., Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota


USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration: 

March 2005 - February 2006


Section 303d of the Clean Water Act focuses on ambient water quality standards, requires states

  1. to identify surface waters not meeting ambient water quality standards appropriate for their designated use categories, and
  2. to define the pollutants and their sources that are responsible for non-attainment od the ambient water quality standards.

Section 303d further requires states to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for pollutants impairing surface waters and to develop strategies for reducing both point and non-point sources of the pollutants in order for non-attaining water bodies to meet ambient water quality standards.

Biological data are typically integrates into the above process at the front-end input, being used

  1. to assist in development of designated use categories and
  2. in monitoring efforts to ensure that ambient water quality standards are met.

However, prediction of biological responses that are likely to result from implementation of TMDL plans is not a fundamental element of the TMDL process. In a recent overview of the TMDL approach to water quality management requested by the US Congress, the National Research Council made several recommendations for integration of biological data into the TMDL process. Among the recommendations, the report states EPA should promote the development of models that can more effectively link environmental stressors (and control actions) to biological responses. Monitoring and data collection programs need to be coordinates with anticipated water quality and TMDL monitoring requirements. This proposal is to employ a newly tested rapid bioassessment technique developed for assessing organic enrichment in urban areas of Minneapolis/Saint Paul (Minnehaha Creek) in a second watershed (Vermillion River catchment) that is undergoing rapid urban development.