Home > Explore Data & Reports > Evaluating confidence in the impact of regulatory nutrient reduction on Chesapeake Bay water quality

Citation:

Irby, I.D., and M.A.M. Friedrichs. 2018. Evaluating confidence in the impact of regulatory nutrient reduction on Chesapeake Bay water quality. Estuaries and Coasts. doi:10.1007/s12237-018-0440-5

Data/Report Type:

Sponsored Research

Description

Excess nutrients derived from anthropogenic activity have resulted in the degradation of coastal water quality and an increase in low-oxygen and hypoxic events worldwide. In an effort to curb these impacts and restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, a maximum load of nutrients has been established based on a framework of regulatory standards and models. This research aims to evaluate the projected changes in water quality resulting from the implementation of these nutrient reductions by applying the regulatory methodology to two different models that have been previously shown to have similar model skill. Results demonstrate that although the two models differ structurally and produce a different degree of absolute change, they project a similar relative improvement in water quality along the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay and the lower reaches of the tributaries. Furthermore, the models largely agree on the attainment of regulatory water quality standards as a result of nutrient reduction, while also establishing that meeting water quality standards is relatively independent of hydrologic (wet/dry) conditions. By developing a Similarity Index that compares model results across habitat, time, and methodology, this research identifies the locations and causes of greatest uncertainty in modeled projections of water quality. Although there are specific locations and times where the models disagree, overall this research lends support and increased confidence to the appropriateness of the nutrient reduction levels and in the general impact of nutrient reduction on Chesapeake Bay water quality under current environmental conditions.

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