Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, 150:91

Survey design for lakes and reservoirs in the United States to assess contaminants in fish tissue


    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ORD/National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division
  • Blaine D. Snyder
    • Tetra Tech, Inc., Center for Ecological Sciences
  • Leanne L. Stahl
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OW/Office of Science and Technology
  • Jennifer L. Pitt
    • Tetra Tech, Inc., Center for Ecological Sciences

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-008-0685-8

Cite this article as:
Olsen, A.R., Snyder, B.D., Stahl, L.L. et al. Environ Monit Assess (2009) 150: 91. doi:10.1007/s10661-008-0685-8


The National Lake Fish Tissue Study (NLFTS) was the first survey of fish contamination in lakes and reservoirs in the 48 conterminous states based on a probability survey design. This study included the largest set (268) of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals ever studied in predator and bottom-dwelling fish species. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) implemented the study in cooperation with states, tribal nations, and other federal agencies, with field collection occurring at 500 lakes and reservoirs over a four-year period (2000–2003). The sampled lakes and reservoirs were selected using a spatially balanced unequal probability survey design from 270,761 lake objects in USEPA’s River Reach File Version 3 (RF3). The survey design selected 900 lake objects, with a reserve sample of 900, equally distributed across six lake area categories. A total of 1,001 lake objects were evaluated to identify 500 lake objects that met the study’s definition of a lake and could be accessed for sampling. Based on the 1,001 evaluated lakes, it was estimated that a target population of 147,343 (±7% with 95% confidence) lakes and reservoirs met the NLFTS definition of a lake. Of the estimated 147,343 target lakes, 47% were estimated not to be sampleable either due to landowner access denial (35%) or due to physical barriers (12%). It was estimated that a sampled population of 78,664 (±12% with 95% confidence) lakes met the NLFTS lake definition, had either predator or bottom-dwelling fish present, and could be sampled.


Fish tissue Contaminants Lakes Reservoirs Probability survey design PBTs

Copyright information

© US Government 2008