Fig 1. This picture shows a Secchi disk in use. The black-and-white disk is the most common tool used to identify the transparency of water bodies which is correlated to phytoplankton abundance.
Image Credit: Biological Sciences Department Kent State University
Research, monitoring, and evaluation activities are essential for characterizing the nature of the eutrophication problem, providing information and support tools to inform policies, and establishing effective measures for managing and reducing nutrient losses.
Examples of important research, tools, and monitoring efforts include:
- Time series monitoring data to evaluate long-term trends and provide a better understanding of the drivers, sources, and impacts of eutrophication;
- Watershed models that assess nutrient fate and transport within watersheds, inform management scenarios, provide watershed analysis, and evaluate progress toward environmental goals;
- Nutrient source information such as location of sources, land use information, animal numbers, and population information;
- Watershed boundaries, location of waterways, and groundwater flows; and
- Nutrient budgets—watershed analyses that identify the amount and sources of nutrients entering waterways—to identify the appropriate actions to reduce nutrient losses. Nutrient budgets form the basis of nutrient reduction strategies and identify those actions needed to meet reduction targets for agricultural, urban, and point sources.
In addition to the need for adequate data about eutrophication and its effects, it is important to support research and development of technologies, processes, and practices for mitigating and controlling nutrient losses. Examples of critical research ares include research on measures that can be undertaken on farms to reduce nutrient losses, research and development of nutrient efficient crop varieties, and development of technologies and processes that can be used to reduce nutrient pollution.