Risk Assessment

Watershed and Other Place-Based Risk Assessments

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Place-based assessments include regional, watershed and other geographically focused assessments.

Watershed Assessments and Methods

The watershed approach is organized around the guiding principles of partnerships, geographic focus, and management based on sound science and data. Watershed assessments integrate the watershed approach with ecological risk assessment to increases the use of environmental monitoring and assessment data in watershed scale decision making. Watershed methods are developed based on experiences from watershed assessments and other relevant scientific literature.

Watershed Ecological Risk Assessments

Clinch and Powell Valley [EPA/600/R-01/050]
Clinch Valley Watershed, Virginia- The assemblage of fish and freshwater mussel species in the rivers in this watershed is among the most diverse in North America. Recent surveys by biologists show a declining abundance of most rare species in this region from anthropogenic stressors such as mining, forestry, agriculture, cattle grazing, municipal septic tanks, and spills.

Middle Snake River [EPA/600/R-01/017]
The west-central Snake River plain of southern Idaho (called the Middle Snake in this case study) is the most degraded stream reach of the Snake River. Water use demands on the water flowing into this river segment include upstream impoundments and demands for energy, irrigation and dairy feedlots. Many aquatic benthic and pelagic species in this area that require cold, swiftly flowing water are either extinct or threatened.

Waquoit Bay [EPA/600/R-02/079]
A shallow Cape Cod estuary fed by groundwater and freshwater streams Waquoit Bay is prized by residents and visitors for its aesthetic beauty and recreational opportunities. The bay provides a permanent or temporary home for many fresh- and salt-water aquatic species as well as terrestrial species. The Bay has also been designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Big Darby Creek case study [EPA 630/R-96/006A]
A watershed relatively free of pollution that is highly valued for its scenic beauty, its high water quality and for recreational opportunities. The Big Darby watershed is also widely recognized for its species diversity, including many rare and endangered freshwater mussels and fish. The watershed is subjected to urbanization, through westward expansion from Columbus, agricultural nonpoint sources and permitted discharges. Management issues relate to future land use and implementation of best management practices.

Regional Assessment

Shrimp virus risk assessment
EPA is making available a draft final report of a peer review and risk assessment workshop on shrimp viruses, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Assessment, on behalf of the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), National Science and Technology Council. The report, completed under contract to the EPA, develops a qualitative ecological risk assessment describing the potential risks of nonindigenous pathogenic shrimp viruses on wild shrimp populations in U.S. coastal waters.

Watershed Ecological Risk Assessment Methods

Characterizing ecological risks at the watershed scale. This report summarizes workshopdiscussions related to estimating, describing, presenting and communicating watershed scale ecological risks. Recommendations reflect the responses of workshop participants to those aspects of watershed scale ecological risk characterization deemed most in need of a procedural framework.

Watershed Ecological Risk Assessment, on-line training module
The Watershed Academy, part of EPA's Office of Water, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW) has incorporated a training module on Watershed ecological risk assessment, developed by scientists in EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) and OWOW. This on-line training module provides an interactive and colorful approach to learning about watershed ecological risk assessment.

Journal Articles

Serveiss, V.B. Accepted. Applying ecological risk principles to watershed assessment and management. Environmental Management.

Diamond, J.M., V.B. Serveiss. Accepted. Diagnosing causes of native fish and mussel species decline in the Clinch and Powell River watershed, Virginia, USA.Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Diamond, J.M., V.B. Serveiss. Accepted. Identifying sources of stress to native aquatic species using a watershed ecological risk assessment framework. Environmental Science and Technology.

Valiela, I. G. Tomasky, J. Hauxwell, M.L. Cole, J. Cebria, and K.D. Kroeger. 2000. Operationalizing sustainability: Management and risk assessment of land-derived nitrogen loads to shallow estuaries. Ecological Applications 10 (4), 2000 pp. 1006-1023.

Cormier, S.M., M. Smith, S. Norton. T. Neiheisel. 2000. Assessing ecological risk in watersheds: A case study of problem formulation in the Big Darby Creek watershed, Ohio, USA, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 19, No 4, pp. 1082-1096, 2000.

Norton, S.B., S. Cormier, M. Smith, R.C. Jones. 2000. Can biological assessments discriminate among types of stress? A case study from the eastern corn belts plains ecoregion. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 1113-1119.

Conference Proceedings

Serveiss, V.B. 2000. Watershed ecological risk assessment. Proceedings from the Water Environment Federation Technological Exposition and Conference (WEFTEC). Session on comparative risk assessment. Anaheim. CA., October 14, 2000.

Serveiss, V.B. 2001. Communicating and characterizing ecological risk at the watershed scale. Conference Proceedings for International conference on diffuse pollution and watershed management, June 11-15, 2001. Institute for Urban Environmental Risk Management at Marquette University. Milwaukee, WI.


Victor B. Serveiss

phone:  703-347-8553

email: serveiss.victor@epa.gov