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A Regional Multiple Stressor Risk Assessment of the Codorus Creek Watershed Applying the Relative Risk Model

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The relative risk model (RRM) used in Port Valdez, AK, and in Oregon's Willamette/McKenzie Watershed was applied to the Codorus Creek Watershed in south central Pennsylvania. The assessment evaluated the relative risk model for its applicability for ranking ecological risks within the Codorus Creek Watershed. The Codorus Creek Watershed approach included ranking stressors and habitats for regions within the watershed. Geographical Information Systems were vital in compiling and comparing stressor and habitat spatial data from regions in the watershed. The risk of ecological impacts to degrade assessment endpoints were calculated and ranked by quantitatively determining the interactions of the stressors and habitats as defined in the conceptual site model. Uncertainty assessment was conducted and the impact upon the relative ranks and risk conclusions evaluated. To determine regional risks, risk management information was gathered identifying areas to be protected, areas of high stress, and areas where additional information is needed. The results supported the applicability of the RRM and suggested areas and stressors for restoration efforts in the Codorus Creek Watershed. Two critical sets of conclusions were drawn from the assessment. First, in the Codorus Creek Watershed, the most significant stressor is agriculture land use, the most significantly impacted endpoint is water quality, and the most vulnerable habitats are those for macroinvertebrates and warm-water fish. Second, this risk assessment demonstrates the feasibility of using the RRM for assessing risk from multiple stressors on habitats with multiple assessment endpoints in an eastern watershed.
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Keywords: comparative risk; relative risk ranking; watershed analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 1101 Lincoln St., Suite 210, Eugene, OR 97401 2: Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA 98 225-9180

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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