SI-1 (7/13/05 version)
Environmental Targets And Priorities, Stream Integrity: Introduction And Scope


Previous Ohio NPS Plans have been organized by land use. There is no question of the influence land use plays on NPS issues throughout the U.S. However, land uses are not the performance indicators that are used to establish the condition of NPS impacted water resources in Ohio. Rather, aquatic life use attainment or impairment is the indicator. As of 2004, 48% of the assessed Ohio WAUs and 64% of the assessed LRAUs are in full aquatic life use attainment; 24% of assessed WAUs and 21% of LRAUs are in partial attainment with aquatic life use standards.

Once Ohio EPA data indicate water quality impairment is occurring, general data about the causes of impairment is collected and summarized in the Integrated Water Quality Report, as the first step in determining solutions. In watersheds where watershed action planning or a TMDL are underway more detailed information about causes and sources is collected to establish environmental targets and target implementation areas. And, ultimately local watershed organizations select management measures that address land use changes. Consequently, the individual management practices in the NPS Plan 2005-2010 are categorized both by land use and cause of impairment.

Figure 1. Getting to the Point about Non-point

Figure 1 illustrates this nested series of outcomes in the form of a target. Local NPS partners identify the land use changes that can occur to solve NPS problems, or the outer ring in the target. State and federal partners identify the NPS causes of impairment that stem from existing land uses, or the middle ring in the target. If properly coordinated, identification of NPS causes and local land use management decisions will allow Ohio to hit the "bulls eye" or aquatic life use attainment.

Cause-based Approach

Without the causes of water quality impairment or threat clearly identified, impairment is a fact without a solution, and management measure implementation occurs based on the hope rather than the knowledge that they will solve the problem. In essence, causes of impairment are the "glue" that holds the target in Figure 1 together. Therefore, the Ohio NPS Plan 2005-2010 is organized by the major causes of surface water quality impairment and ground water impact or threat.

This section focuses on habitat and hydromodification causes of impairment that generally cannot be solved by NPS pollution prevention or abatement alone. For information on chemical integrity causes of impairment, click here.


The following issues are outside the scope of this round of NPS stream integrity target development for Ohio.

Invasive Species

This decision is not meant to minimize the importance of aquatic species invasions to Ohio water resource integrity. In fact, invasive species have fundamentally changed the Lake Erie eco-system and more invasives continue to enter the Great Lakes each year.

Rather, the mechanisms of distribution (very similar to NPS) of invasive species are complex enough that, in many cases, regional approaches are underway, and more time will be needed to research, discuss, and establish meaningful Ohio-specific targets. Because invasives are living organisms, their presence is very similar to legacy pollutants such as contaminated sediments. Once they have entered the ecosystem, they are very difficult to remove. Thus prevention is the most effective approach

Links to existing aquatic invasive species prevention initiatives are provided below:

Lake Erie Coastal Morphology and Habitat

The natural shorelines of Lake Erie were and are comprised of many features including: embayments, headlands, bluffs and banks, coastal marshes and barrier islands, beaches, and limestone outcrops. The physical condition of these shoreline features can be directly traced to sediment resources and their distribution. In this case, sediment and associated erosion are not so much an issue of NPS pollution to Lake Erie, but rather a fundamental building block of the shoreline, particularly beaches. Lake Erie beaches have long served as a critical protective and preservation mechanism for other prized natural and man-made coastline features.

In the context of NPS-related water resource integrity in the Lake Erie system, the key issues related to coastal morphology, and beaches in particular, are the transport of fine silt from the Lake Erie tributaries and coastal wetlands. Silt from tributaries can prohibit the use of dredged materials for beach renourishment and are also the delivery mechanism for much of the nutrient load to Lake Erie. Historically, barrier beaches protected large areas of coastal wetlands from wave action, that now must be armored to survive. These coastal wetlands not only provided valuable fish and wildlife habitat, but served a vital role in attenuating NPS pollutants entering Lake Erie.

These issues and more are being addressed as follows: