Finding the right fit: Modeling US water quality criteria, with Brad Barnhart

Credit: terovesalainen/Adobe Stock

 No water, no life. No blue, no green.

– Sylvia Earle

Water is the most important substance on earth. Without it, life would not exist. To ensure that water is safe for drinking, swimming, fishing, and to support wildlife, scientists are constantly updating the criteria that determine if a body of water is protective for biota health or “safe” for human consumption, recreation, or other designated use. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends using environmental models in the development of water quality criteria; however, a variety of models exist, and they differ in their strengths, limitations, assumptions, and data requirements. In this podcast, we talk with Brad Barnhart, lead author on an IEAM article that reviews environmental models used in developing water quality criteria. The article summarizes the types of models recommended by the USEPA, their attributes, and advantages and disadvantages with each approach, providing readers with a roadmap to help navigate regulatory environmental modeling frameworks. Access the article in the January 2023 issue of IEAM.

Listen on iTunes or YouTube.

About the Guest

Dr. Brad Barnhart is a senior research scientist and has worked for the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. ( since 2018. NCASI is a scientific research organization that focuses on environmental topics of interest to the forest products industry. Brad has broad interests in environmental science, forest ecology, watershed and water quality, economic index theory, efficiency and productivity, multi-objective optimization, and decision support. His current projects cover a variety of topics that involve water, ranging from performing statistical analyses, modeling current and future environmental phenomena, building tools to better understand hydrology and water quality, and improving the efficient use of water resources. Brad is also a Courtesy Faculty member with Oregon State University’s Environmental Sciences Graduate Program where he serves as the Major Professor for several graduate students.

Articles Referenced in this Podcast

Barnhart, B. and Flinders, C. (2023), A review of regulatory modeling frameworks supporting numeric water quality criteria development in the United States. Integr Environ Assess Manag, 19(1): 191-201.


This podcast includes sound clips from Free SFX and below: (CC0 1.0, Public Domain) (CC BY 4.0)

Permission to use “Intentions” as the opening track kindly granted by The Whitest Boy Alive.

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