Central Plains Center for Bioassessment

Determination of Regional Reference Conditions, Tiered Aquatic Life Applications and Inter-Regional Calibration of Community Assessment Methods

Nebraska Sandhills graphic
Date January 2003 - December 2006
Contact Donald Huggins
Location Central Plains


Biological Criteria Workgroup

As directed by the Clean Water Act, the US EPA has set a priority for the development of biological water quality criteria. Biological criteria are valuable because they directly measure the condition of the resource at risk, detect problems that other methods may miss or underestimate, and provide a systematic process for measuring progress resulting from the implementation of water quality programs.

The initial phase of this program directs State adoption of narrative biological criteria as part of State water quality standards. CPCB is assisting the US EPA Region 7 Biocriteria Workgroup in this effort. When implemented, biological criteria will expand and improve water quality standards programs, help identify impairment of beneficial uses, and help set program priorities.

Criteria and guideline development

The Biocriteria Workgroup hard at work.

The US EPA Region 7 Biocriteria Workgroup has nominated 250 candidate reference streams in Region 7. CPCB is currently creating a database of physical, chemical, habitat, and biological data for these reference streams. The workgroup is working together to develop from this database an appropriate set of regional reference condition guidelines that may be applied to streams throughout the region. See US EPA's Biocriteria program at http://www.epa.gov/ost/biocriteria/index.html.

Slide from: “Development of Reference Conditions for Stream Biological Assessment in Iowa”, given by Tom Wilton,Iowa DNR.
Photo credit: John Olson, IDNR.

Regional Workshops

The workgroup also develops topics of interest for regional biocriteria workshops. These workshops are typically held once a year and are hosted by CPCB at the Kansas Biological Survey facility in Lawrence, Kansas.

Workshops are posted at http://www.cpcb.ku.edu/workshops/html/index.htm and include:

  • Sampling Methodologies in the Central Plains
  • Programmatic and Applied Uses of Biological Information in Protecting Aquatic Resources
  • Stream Habitat Assessment
  • Reference Conditions and Landscape-Scale Bioassessment.


Donald Huggins

Debbie Baker