Submitted to: North American Benthological Society Bulletin
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2006
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Government standards for water quality are applied to wide geographical areas, although environmental conditions may vary greatly within given areas. Development of research-based and context-specific water quality criteria may better protect sensitive aquatic organisms, while providing realistic goals for stakeholders. In the state of Georgia, streams and rivers are required to maintain minimum dissolved oxygen (DO) levels of 4 m/l. However, Georgia is divided into five physiographic provinces with widely-varying environmental conditions. Ninety-one percent of tributaries listed on the 2004 303(d) list in the Coastal Plain of Georgia violate DO standards. A new standard of 90% of natural DO concentrations during critical flow conditions has been proposed, but little data is available to establish what natural DO concentrations should be. To allow for a science-based standard, an extensive research program has been initiated to investigate natural and anthropogenic factors influencing DO, and to establish natural ranges of DO in coastal plain rivers. Research conducted by a team of United States Department of Agriculture and University of Georgia scientists and students in 3 watersheds indicates that observed low DO in coastal plain waterways may be a natural condition for summer months. Synthesized past research and proposed plans are described.