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Parameters and Indicators

Water quality is one of the most important pillars supporting a healthy ecosystem and plays a central role in environmental monitoring practices. The status of water quality is assessed based on a variety of physical, chemical, and biological parameters, and is dependent on the intended use of the water body in question. Often, certain parameters (or “indicators”) are chosen as efficient and cost-effective measures of water quality. These include physio-chemical (e.g., dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity, and nutrients), biological (e.g., faecal coliforms, total coliforms, aquatic macroinvertebrates, and chlorophyll-a), and others. Water quality parameters and indicators continually fluctuate and vary significantly with changes in surrounding anthropogenic activity and environmental conditions, especially after extreme weather events. For those reasons, it is important to monitor, assess, as well as communicate how one or multiple parameters may influence the status of water quality. WRI is involved in conducting and funding research on water quality parameters and indicators that may serve to appraise the status of water bodies around NYS based on their classification and/or intended use(s). WRI is also engaged in communicating the results to resource managers, government entities, and the NYS public to promote robust decision-making and management practices.

Research Goals

  • Develop water quality indices that consider numeric thresholds, as well as classifications and intended uses of streams in NY.
  • Use hydrological modeling to evaluate drivers of short and long-term water quality trends.
  • Assess the impact of rural and urban best management practices (BMPs) on water quality.

Outreach Goals

  • Create summaries of research findings and engage with local/regional stakeholders involved with water quality assessment and monitoring, including Cornell University and their contractors.
  • Synthesize research findings to create virtual tools that can be accessible to a variety of audiences interested in water quality in NYS.

Diversity Equity Inclusion/ Environmental Justice

  • Determine whether issues of water quality address EJ and assess the adequacy of responsiveness.
  • Make recommendations on how to better incorporate EJ into policies and programs that are at the forefront of water quality issues.