The U.S. EPA released the Wadeable Streams Assessment (WSA), which is the first consistent evaluation of the streams that feed rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Alaska and Hawaii were not included in the report but have pilot projects underway. “Wadeable streams” are those that are shallow enough to be adequately sampled without a boat. They are an important natural resource that has been under-sampled in the past.
Conducted between 2000 and 2004, the study was based on sampling at 1,392 sites selected to represent the condition of all streams that share similar ecological characteristics in various regions. The survey found that stream conditions vary widely across the diverse ecological regions of the country, and that, in general, streams in the West were in the best condition.
The WSA is part of a series of surveys to evaluate all of the nation’s waters. Coastal condition has already been evaluated. During the next five years, EPA will sample the condition of lakes, large rivers and wetlands. Then the process will be repeated to provide ongoing comparisons of the state of the waters and point to possible future action.
Similar to the draft Wadeable Streams Assessment, EPA, states, tribes and other partners soon will embark on a survey of the nation’s lakes to provide regional and national estimates of lake condition.
April 25 to 28, 2006, EPA’s Monitoring Branch co-sponsored a meeting in Chicago with 140 lakes experts, including representatives from 45 States, to plan the Lakes Survey. At the meeting, EPA provided packets to states (and tribes) identifying a preliminary list of sites that will be sampled in the summer of 2007. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Chicago Botanic Garden and the North American Lake Management Society.
The survey will use a statistically valid approach, which, like an opinion poll, randomly selects lake sites that represent the condition of all sites in regions sharing similar ecological characteristics. Survey participants will use consistent sampling and analytical procedures to ensure that the results can be compared across the country.