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Water Quality Model Uncertainty Analysis of a Point-Point Source Phosphorus Trading Program

Authors


  • Paper No. JAWRA-10-0036-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Obropta: obropta@envsci.rutgers.edu).

Abstract

Kardos, Josef S. and Christopher C. Obropta, 2011. Water Quality Model Uncertainty Analysis of a Point-Point Source Phosphorus Trading Program. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(6):1317–1337. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00591.x

Abstract:  Water quality modeling is a major source of scientific uncertainty in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. The effects of these uncertainties extend to water quality trading programs designed to implement TMDLs. This study examines the effects of water quality model uncertainty on a nutrient trading program. The study builds on previous work to design a phosphorus trading program for the Nontidal Passaic River Basin in New Jersey that would implement the watershed TMDL for total phosphorus (TP). The study identified how water quality model uncertainty affects outcomes of potential trades of TP between wastewater treatment plants. The uncertainty analysis found no evidence to suggest that the outcome of trades between wastewater treatment plants, as compared with command and control regulation, will significantly increase uncertainty in the attainment of dissolved oxygen surface water quality standards, site-specific chlorophyll a criteria, and reduction targets for diverted TP load at potential hot spots in the watershed. Each simulated trading scenario demonstrated parity with or improvement from the command and control approach at the TMDL critical locations, and low risk of hot spots elsewhere.

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