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The development of nutrient criteria for California is being undertaken as part of a nationwide effort to provide water quality standards that can be used as endpoints to protect water bodies from nutrient over enrichment. The overall goal of the effort is to maintain nutrient levels that support the health of aquatic systems and limit the excessive growth of macrophytes or phytoplankton. The goal is also to reduce the events of potentially harmful algal blooms leading to oxygen declines, imbalance of aquatic species, public health threats, and a general decline in the aquatic resource (US EPA, 1998). Our criteria development strategy consists of evaluating data from reference (unimpaired) and impaired water bodies along with modeling to estimate expected loads in unimpaired systems. This paper describes the results of the empirical data analysis as applied to the Southern California Oak and Chaparral Ecoregion (Omernik, 1987), and provides a road map to the states in EPA Region IX for further data collection, analysis, and eventual development of a complete set of numeric nutrient criteria.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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