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    What Do We Really Know About Stream Quality Criteria and Standards?

    Published: 01 January 1967

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    Generally speaking, quality standards for streams are aimed at insuring maximum practicable utility of water resources for all intended users. Thus, the basic criterion in setting stream quality standards has been to insure absence of those quality factors which are dangerous or otherwise objectionable to the users. Lack of accurate information on effects of many pollutants hinders standardization, as does inability to perform accurate analysis for certain pertinent water components. Even if one could analyze accurately and be sure of the quality he desires in a river, the complex interactions of flow, water composition, seasonal variations and aquatic processes would make it quite difficult to set a single quantitative standard for any quality parameter. In some cases, efforts to reduce pollution are opposed by almost immovable forces of nature and thus are impracticable, if not almost impossible. The proper approach to setting stream quality standards under these circumstances is to accept arbitrary limits or ranges for the most pertinent solutes, suspended materials, and aesthetic factors, while performing the data collection and research necessary to place standardization on a firmer basis.


    criteria, standards, municipal water, industrial water, detergents, algae, phosphates, oxygen, biological oxygen demand, pesticides, sediments, lakes, water, water quality, water pollution

    Author Information:

    Clarke, F. E.
    associate chief hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D. C.,

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.03

    DOI: 10.1520/STP47253S