National Rivers and Streams Assessment in South Dakota

Science Center Objects

Project Period: 2008-2009
Cooperator: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Project Chief: Kathy Neitzert

Executive Summary

The National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA) is a statistical survey of the condition of our Nation's rivers and streams. NRSA uses techniques developed during the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP)-West that was initiated in South Dakota in 2000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The objectives of the EMAP-West study were to develop the monitoring tools necessary to produce unbiased estimates of the ecological condition of surface waters across a large geographic area of the western United States, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of those tools in a large-scale assessment. Summaries of EMAP activities in South Dakota during 2000-2004 were presented in Heakin and others (2006) and Heakin and Neitzert (2006). The NRSA study is one of a series of water surveys being conducted by States, Tribes, USEPA, U.S. Geological Survey, and other partners to study coastal waters, lakes, and wetlands in a revolving sequence.


The objectives of the NRSA study are to assess the condition of the Nation's rivers and streams; establish a baseline to compare future rivers and streams surveys for trends assessments; evaluate changes in condition from the 2004 Wadeable Streams Assessment; and help build State and Tribal capacity for monitoring and assement and promote collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries. This information will be used to generate statistically-valid and environmentally relevant reports on the condition of the Nation's water resources. The goal of the NRSA is to address two key questions about the quality of the Nation's rivers and streams:

  • What percent of the Nation's rivers and streams are in good, fair, and poor condition?
  • What is the relative importance of key stressors such as nutrients and pathogens?