Environmental Management

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 55-68

First online:

Ecological perspective on water quality goals

  • James R. KarrAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology, Ethology and Evolution, University of Illinois
  • , Daniel R. DudleyAffiliated withDivision of Surveillance, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

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The central assumption of nonpoint source pollution control efforts in agricultural watersheds is that traditional erosion control programs are sufficient to insure high quality water resources. We outline the inadequacies of that assumption, especially as they relate to the goal of attaining ecological integrity. The declining biotic integrity of our water resources over the past two decades is not exclusively due to water quality (physical/chemical) degradation. Improvement in many aspects of the quality of our water resources must be approached with a much broader perspective than improvement of physical/chemical conditions. Other deficiencies in nonpoint pollution control programs are discussed and a new approach to the problem is outlined.

Key words

Nonpoint source pollution Water quality Stream ecosystems Flow regimes Clean Water Act Allen County Indiana Biotic integrity