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Assessing Water Quality and Biological Integrity of the Great Rivers of the Central US

Ted R. Angradi 2, David W. Bolgrien 1, Brian H. Hill 1, John R. Kelly 1, and E. William Schweiger 2

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Mid-Continent Ecology Division, 1 Duluth, MN and 2 Denver, CO.

The goal of USEPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program program for Great River Ecosystems (EMAP-GRE) is to demonstrate techniques with which to assess environmental conditions in the Upper Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers. Previous EMAP efforts have focused on streams, lakes, and estuaries. EMAP-GRE is providing technical guidance and opportunities to collect and analyze water chemistry, fish, benthic invertebrate, zooplankton, algae, sediment, and habitat data for large floodplain rivers. State-level assessments, based on approximately 30 sites per state, should be completed in 2006. The program is part of EPA's effort to improve the science to assess, and then monitor, water quality and biological integrity. Because these rivers have complex habitats and form interstate borders, they are challenging to assess. EMAP-GRE will assist EPA, tribes, and states to report, with known statistical confidence, the condition and distribution of selected river and reservoir habitats. Robust "snapshots" of condition not only improve compliance with the Clean Water Act, they facilitate the analysis of trends as is required for adaptive management. Better understanding of how conditions in Great Rivers respond to environmental stresses will lead to more informed environmental decisions for river management, ecological function restoration, and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

Keywords: Great Rivers, biological integrity, assessment, water quality

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