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WE&RF Awards Research Contract to Create Modeling Guidance for Developing Nutrient Goals

August 11, 2017 (Alexandria, VA) The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) recently awarded a contract to Brown and Caldwell to create Modeling Guidance for Developing Site-Specific Nutrient Goals – Demonstration, Screening Level Application (LINK4T17). This project builds on previous WE&RF research (LINK1T11) that developed modeling guidance for site-specific nutrient goals and an associated Nutrient Modeling Toolbox. The Nutrient Modeling Toolbox can be used for deriving site-specific water qualithy criteria for nutrients. It provides a mechanism that can quantitatively link nutrient loads to water quality and ecological response indicators on a site-specific basis, using a variety of factors such as types of waterbodies, chemical response indicators, and total maximum daily load applications. The Nutrient Modeling Toolbox was demonstrated in Boulder, CO (LINK2T14) on a shallow stream to select and calibrate a nutrient response model of the creek. That research ultimately showed that the Toolbox would benefit default management strategies.

Limitations on data and resources can hinder full calibration of models in planning and permitting situations. The LINK4T17 research will demonstrate the utility of screening-level models for deriving site-specific nutrient goals. These models use limited data. Yet they can be applied to predict the relative sensitivity of response variables, such as attached algae, to pre-defined treatment levels. Screening-level applications are valuable where stream data is not available to generate a calibrated model of nutrient response. They will be useful in the regulatory process for identifying reasonable management approaches that protect designated uses. 

For this project, the research team will develop a process and a tool for applying screening-level models in streams and small river settings. They will test the process and the tool in three different stream settings. Together, these research products will advance the use of flexible regulatory approaches for reducing nutrient pollution, including site-specific nutrient criteria, adaptive management, and variances.

The research team will rely on an advisory group with representatives from both eastern and western states, as well as utilities and state permitting agencies. The advisory group will help ensure that the process and tool are applicable to real permitting and planning situations. It is anticipated to be completed Summer of 2018.
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, funds research, pilot projects, and technology demonstrations that maximize the value of water, including wastewater, stormwater, and other water sources. WE&RF is recognized worldwide as a trusted source of innovation and peer-reviewed research in wastewater, water reuse, and resource recovery.