National Water Quality Assessment Program: Environmental Setting of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
In 1991, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River basin was among the first 20 basins in which studies were initiated as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The major objectives of the NAWQA program are to provide a description of current water-quality conditions for a large part of the Nation's water resources; to define long-term trends in water quality; and to identify, describe, and explain the major factors that affect water-quality conditions and trends (Hirsch and others, 1988). The NAWQA program will provide an improved scientific basis for evaluating the effectiveness of water-quality-management programs, and for predicting the likely effects of changes in land- and water-management practices. The basin-wide scope of the ACF River basin study of NAWQA differs from previous, more geographically limited water-quality assessments in that it requires a broader, holistic framework for understanding determinants of water quality. In addition to measuring chemical and physical indicators of water quality, the NAWQA program will assess the status of aquatic ecosystems by using surveys of fish, invertebrate, and benthic algal communities. The purpose of this presentation is to summarize major factors, both natural and anthropogenic, that affect surface- and ground-water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems in the ACF Basin.