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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » SWRC » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #102694


item Heilman, Philip - Phil

Submitted to: Multiple Objective Decision Support Systems for Land, Water, and Environment
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/17/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The United States has begun a systematic effort to improve water quality. Individual States and the Environmental Protection Agency determine which water bodies are not attaining their intended uses. A plan, referred to as a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, will be developed for each such waterbody to reduce loadings of contaminants. An analysis of the causes for rwater bodies not attaining the desired quality indicates that almost half relate directly to sediment or to contaminants usually moved in association with sediment. Problems arise in developing the plans because sediment movement is difficult to quantify. It would be possible to develop flawed plans in locations where the total amount of sediment currently being moved is unknown. An expanded sediment-monitoring program together with software to support planning could improve the planning for those water bodies affected by sediment.

Technical Abstract: Decision-making can be limited by the quantity and quality of data available. The United States has begun a long-term effort to improve water quality, but data collection and analysis have not been modified to facilitate the decision-making required. Specifically, sediment monitoring may be inadequate to support this new need. Sediment-monitoring sites have not been chosen to support these goals, nor are data systematically analyzed for development of management plans to improve water quality. Given the natural variability in sediment movement and the current sediment-monitoring program, management plans at many locations are likely to be sub-optimal. Selected increases in sediment-monitoring data could facilitate water-quality planning by helping to quantify abatement goals, improve abatement allocation among sources of sediment, and assess management results, leading to a more effective and less costly water-quality program.