Water Quality & Aquatic Biology Programs

NCASI has three program areas that contribute to the scientific understanding and conservation of water resources. These are the Water Quality Program, the Aquatic Biology Program and the Forest Watersheds Program (part of the larger Forest Environment and Sustainability Program). Technical studies in all three programs are coordinated to maximize the value of each line of investigation.

The Water Quality Program focuses on the characterization of process wastewaters derived from forest products manufacturing operations and the environmental significance of their release to surface waters after treatment. Technical studies center around effluent composition, biological treatment, the fate of effluent constituents in receiving waters, the characterization of receiving waters potentially impacted by these operations, and the analytical methods used for measuring constituents in water and associated solids. Most water projects are driven by opportunities to enhance current mill environmental management programs, or are developed in response to regulatory activities where the likelihood of sound resource management decisions would be enhanced by an improved understanding of the underlying science.

The Aquatic Biology Program seeks to understand the compatibility of pulp and paper mill effluents with healthy receiving water aquatic ecosystems. NCASI staff biologists and sponsored researchers at universities conduct research that addresses numerous aspects of this relationship. Measuring responses of organisms exposed to mill effluents during whole effluent toxicity tests, and determining factors responsible for any responses, is an important part of the program. The role that nutrients contained in pulp mill effluents may play with respect to in-stream biota is also being investigated. Work in this area also follows and documents the significant changes in aquatic ecosystem responses brought about by pulp and paper mill process changes and effluent treatment system improvements.

The results of NCASI’s water and aquatic biology studies are used by mills to enhance their environmental programs and to facilitate participation in local or regional water quality improvement initiatives. NCASI information resources are also used by companies and industry trade associations at the local, regional, and national levels to promote sound regulatory decisions that are based on credible scientific information.