Sampling Watershed Quality
Measuring Watershed Quality
More recently, scientists have recognized the need to incorporate this biological data in order to create a comprehensive investigation of watershed quality and response to change. This biological line of investigation is important because chemical assessments could not assess the effect of a particular pollutant after settling in the system, and could only accurately measure its short-term effects.
Biological methods take into account a variety of ecological indicators like topography, soil structure, water table levels, and surrounding vegetation and present a more conclusive picture of a watershed. These ecological variables are useful in measuring long-term effects and the ability of the water system to respond to major stress events. The Ohio EPA has highlighted the following as primary components of biological integrity:
Using ecological parameters is extremely valuable in assessing non-point pollution. With no known discharge sites and unknown times of origin, non-point pollution becomes very difficult to assess. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the planner, developer, and landowner to recognize the need for incorporating biological data into watershed assessments.
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