Regionally Based Clean Water Activities

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DHS McKay, Wallace A 07/01/2005 - 06/30/2010 Environmental Protection Agency

Project Description

State and local agencies in Nevada are currently under intense pressure to meet conditions of the Clean Water Act (CWA); particularly those related to nonpoint source pollution (Section 319[h]), impaired waters (Section 303[d]) and associated total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). Among the challenges facing the state are sparse data, inadequate scientific basis for existing water quality standards, a general lack of decision-making tools such as models and spatial analysis software, and insufficient financial resources to support in-house technical staff. Discussions with state and local stakeholders (e.g., Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, or NDEP; Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe; and Washoe County) along with staff from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region IX have helped identify and prioritize a suite of water quality-related activities that address some of the aforementioned water quality challenges. The geographic focus of these activities includes three western Nevada river basins (the Truckee, Carson, and Humboldt rivers). The scientific focus will involve a suite of laboratory and field-scale activities designed to better understand the effects of natural and human factors on ecological function in western river basins. A unifying element for data derived from this research will be application to one or more numerical water quality models, which will lead to improved capability to simulate future conditions under varying management scenarios. With the above as background, the objectives of the work to be completed under the cooperative agreement are as follows: 1. to develop the physical and biological basis for improving existing models and other management tools for use in western Nevada watersheds though a variety of workplan tasks that address algal (periphyton) kinetics, benthic macro invertebrates; hydrologic processes, and image analysis; 2. to integrate newly acquired experimental and field results using the numerical simulation model(s) as the unifying platform; 3. to operate the amended models under a variety of input (anthropogenic and natural) scenarios; 4. to improve the information base for evaluating and applying existing water quality models; and 5. to improve the capacity of water managers to identify water quality issues related to algal growth in western streams.