Waterbody Checkup: Using Bioassessment to Evaluate Aquatic Ecosystem Health

October 05, 2021

Presenter: Camille Flinders

Bioassessment is the evaluation of the biological condition of a waterbody that uses biological surveys and other direct measurements of surface water biota. Mandated by agencies in the US and Canada, bioassessment is used to evaluate waterbody health, identify the sources and causes of impairment, define aquatic life uses, develop water quality standards, and ensure waterbodies are supporting a designated use specified in water quality standards. As such, bioassessment outcomes are key drivers for discharger wasteload allocations. Most bioassessment is performed using periphyton, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish, with each taxa group providing different information on waterbody condition. The widespread and mandated use of bioassessment to evaluate waterbodies, including receiving waters of pulp and paper mill effluent, highlights the importance of understanding the basis of bioassessment and methods for collection, and this presentation provides an overview of this information.