Tools Help Reduce Nutrients in Water, Improve Public Health & Support Ecosystems

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has new tools and information that States, territories, and authorized Tribes can use to help protect people, animals, and aquatic life from harmful algal blooms and other adverse effects of nutrients in water.

The USEPA says nutrient pollution in water presents one of the country’s most widespread environmental and public health challenges. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in  waterways have steadily increased, degrading water quality, feeding harmful algal blooms, affecting drinking water sources, increasing public health risks, and contributing to costly impacts on drinking water treatment, recreation, tourism, and fisheries.

N-STEPS Online
USEPA’s Nutrient Scientific Technical Exchange Partnership & Support (N-STEPS) program released a new web-based resource, N-STEPS Online, that provides technical assistance to States, territories, and authorized Tribes to help water quality scientists and managers derive numeric nutrient criteria. N-STEPS Online contains technical support documents, case studies, tools, and data sources.

Through a User-Centered Design approach, the program better communicates the latest scientific information and technical approaches to partners of USEPA. This resource includes information from existing USEPA guidance, as well as examples from State and Tribal numeric nutrient criteria development experiences. The application was developed through a multi-year process of collaboration with State and Tribal stakeholders.

User Perception Surveys Primer
USEPA also published a new resource to help States and Tribes develop scientific surveys to better protect aesthetic and recreational waterbody uses. States and Tribes can use Development of User Perception Surveys to Protect Water Quality from Nutrient Pollution: A Primer on Common Practices and Insights to develop numeric nutrient criteria to adopt into their water quality standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The primer draws from previously conducted State user perception surveys, peer reviewed literature, and interviews with State and Federal water quality professionals experienced with conducting user perception surveys. The USEPA remains committed to partnering with States, territories, and authorized Tribes to continue to track progress towards the adoption of numeric nutrient criteria into water quality standards.

With a focus on science and partnerships, USEPA is pursuing a “one-water” strategy to reduce nutrient pollution in the nation’s waters, including working alongside the agricultural and industrial sectors, and providing technical assistance to States, territories, and authorized Tribes to help them protect the designated uses of their water bodies.