Collection and analysis of water quality and benthic macroinvertebrate and algal community data to support nutrient criteria development in northwestern Mississippi

Author(s): Hicks, M.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is in the process of developing scientifically defensible nutrient criteria to protect designated uses of three types of waterbodies: lakes, streams/rivers, and estuaries/coastal waters. Data collection and analysis efforts in support of nutrient criteria have been ongoing in some ecoregions in the State since about 2002, and separate Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) have been formed to oversee criteria development for each waterbody type. Developing nutrient criteria has proven to be particularly challenging in the Mississippi Delta region in northwestern Mississippi. Reference or best attainable conditions have not been fully identified in this region, and complex relations between nutrient concentrations and biological integrity are not well understood. In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partnered with MDEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to conduct a study in wadeable streams that originate in the Bluff Hills along the eastern boundary of the Mississippi Delta for the primary purpose of supporting nutrient criteria development. The main scope of the study involves collection of algal community and biomass data along with concurrent and antecedent physical, chemical and other biological data to characterize stressor-response relationships. The study purpose, strategy, design, and timelines will be presented.

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