Re-assessing Attainment: A multi-state comparison of water quality to assess the impact of Clean Water Act standards

Authors: Mitchell Owens*, Indiana University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, United States, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Clean Water Act, water quality, environmental impacts, policy
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Within the framework of the Clean Water Act, water quality in the United States is evaluated on a national level by metrics such as percentage of streams not in attainment of standards. This would seem to provide a straightforward basis for comparing water quality across states, but it does not. Each state has its own definition of water quality attainment in a stream, based on that state’s unique water quality standards. A state thus could have a higher rate of attainment not because of better water quality, but because of laxer standards. To understand the impacts of CWA water quality policies, the inter-relations between policies and water quality need to be studied and compared on a more direct state by state, pollutant by pollutant basis. To that end, this poster presents a multi-state comparison of publicly available, agency-collected water quality data to understand how (or if) water quality actually varies across state lines.

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