The first step in planning is gathering key stakeholders. Common stakeholders can include federal, state, and tribal staff scientists and policy experts and/or hired professionals as well as interested parties such as the business community, environmental groups, land owners, and other segments of society concerned with nutrient pollution and the development and implementation of nutrient criteria in their region.

Bringing together stakeholders during the planning phase helps ensure that important science, policy, and management perspectives are incorporated into the criteria development process. State and tribal staff should communicate why nutrient criteria are important in their management decisions, what decisions the criteria will influence, and what information they want to receive from the process. Additionally, technical staff should describe how scientific information can address ecological and management concerns, what information can be provided, where problems are likely to occur, and where uncertainty might be problematic.

During planning, stakeholders are responsible for deciding on the scope and goals of the criteria development process. First, they must assemble scientific information and data relevant to nutrients and human and ecological health in area watersheds. Next, they evaluate existing data and objectives to determine an appropriate scope. Then, using federal, state, and tribal regulatory requirements and publicly perceived environmental values, the stakeholders establish management goals to direct the remaining steps in the criteria development process.


  • Assembling Relevant Scientific Information and Data
  • Selecting Water body Type
  • Developing Management Goals

Case Studies

Nutrient-Enriched Waters Designation

  • Virginia DEQ assembled a technical advisory committee (TAC) to address nutrient enrichment issues
  • Developed methods to set WQS to protect designated uses
  • Provided input on issues including appropriate parameters, concentrations, and monitoring

NC Lakes and Reservoirs

  • North Carolina has a combination of numeric chlorophyll a standards and narrative criteria
  • The state addresses nutrients using several strategies
  • Their approach to control eutrophication can serve as a model for other states

Nitrate Addressed in Waupaca, WI

  • Agricultural practices in Waupaca County contributed to high nitrate and reduced water quality
  • The city developed a wellhead protection ordinance and cropping agreements to address high nitrate

Nitrogen in Wastewater Effluent

  • Successfully reduced high N in septic system to meet regulations in wellhead protection area
  • Implemented new passive N-removal process in septic system with a nitrogen- and bio-filter
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