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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Sections: Environmental Standards for Agricultural Watersheds

Development of Environmental Thresholds for Streams in Agricultural Watersheds


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 1, p. 1-6
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Sept 16, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): Patricia.Chambers@ec.gc.ca
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  1. P. A. Chambers *a,
  2. J. M. Culpb,
  3. E. S. Robertsc and
  4. M. Bowermand
  1. a Environment Canada, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, 867 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington, ON L7R 4A6, Canada
    b Environment Canada and Canadian Rivers Institute, Dep. Biology, Univ. of New Brunswick, 10 Bailey Dr., Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada
    c Environment Canada, 351 St. Joseph Blvd., Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3, Canada
    d Environment Canada, 269 Laurier Ave., Ottawa, ON K1A 0P8, Canada


Global increases in consumption of chemical nutrients, application of pesticides, and water withdrawal to enhance agricultural yield have resulted in degraded water quality and reduced water availability. Efforts to safeguard or improve environmental conditions of agroecosystems have usually focused on managing on-farm activities to reduce materials loss and conserve habitat. Another management measure for improving environmental quality is adoption of environmental performance standards (also called outcome-based standards). This special collection of six papers presents the results of four years of research to devise scientifically credible approaches for setting environmental performance standards to protect water quantity and quality in Canadian agriculturally dominated watersheds. The research, conducted as part of Canada's National Agri-Environmental Standards Initiative, aimed to identify Ideal Performance Standards (the desired environmental state needed to maintain ecosystem health) and Achievable Performance Standards (the environmental conditions achievable using currently available and recommended best available processes and technologies). Overviews of the papers, gaps in knowledge, and future research directions are presented. As humans, livestock, and wildlife (both terrestrial and aquatic) experience greater pressures to share the same limited water resources, innovative research is needed that incorporates a landscape perspective, economics, farm practices, and ecology to advance the development and application of tools for protecting water resources in agricultural watersheds.

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