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The 6 Values of Water Quality Modeling

The problem cannot be solved by water quality modeling, but the solution(s) will become evident or supportable because of modeling.

There are many reasons why water quality models are applied in lake management, but in general, they can be broken down into six categories of value where management questions can be answered:

water quality modeling1. Analyze historical data for trends in water quality and determine causative factors.
Example: how has an invasive species impacted water quality? What was the water quality before the land use was developed?

2. Predict future trends resulting from planned or possible influences
Example: how will changing water levels, residential development, global climate change affect water quality?

3. Evaluate the effects of different management practices on lake water quality
Example: how will source controls, pollutant trapping devices, oxygenation, mixing impact water quality?

4. Predict the occurrence of adverse conditions and evaluate actions to avoid them
Example: cyanobacteria blooms, taste and odor, excessive suspended solids and sedimentation, elevated color, toxicity?

5. Identify critical portions of a watershed
Example: where is pollutant “hot spots” or areas that contribute to disproportionate levels compared to the watershed averages? Where are areas that need to be protected?

6. Support cost-benefit analysis of treatment options
Example: what restoration strategy will provide the most benefit to the resource at the lowest cost? Balancing high impact watershed restoration vs. what is feasible.

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