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Surface Water Quality Bureau
Watershed Protection Section

The Nonpoint Source Effectiveness Assessment, 2008-2011
Final Report

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Daniel Guevara Effectiveness Monitoring Coordinator
(505) 476-3086

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In 2008 the SWQB initiated an effectiveness monitoring program with the primary goal of evaluating the effects of stream restoration projects on water quality. Key objectives were to select practical methods and apply them to monitor water quality changes related to the new stream restoration projects, and to evaluate prior projects for nomination as success stories.

As a result, the water quality effects of most new restoration projects are now determined using the upstream/downstream, before/after study design for statistical analysis. The SWQB has applied this approach on five projects: Rio de los Pinos, Bluewater Creek, San Antonio Creek, Comanche Creek, and Ponil Creek, all of which have §319 projects related to temperature impairments. Stream temperature was monitored each summer from 2009 to 2011, and an analysis of covariance was used to determine the effects of each project. Significant decreases in daily maximum stream temperature were detected on San Antonio and Comanche Creeks. An analysis of turbidity was also done for San Antonio Creek, but the results were inconclusive. The results for stream temperature on the remaining waters were also inconclusive, but at least two more years of additional monitoring will be conducted and will add strength to the analysis and better account for the lag time for vegetation growth.

In 2011, baseline data were collected on two new projects: Redondo Creek and Rito Peñas Negras. Redondo Creek was monitored cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service, and Rito Peñas Negras with the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program. Effectiveness monitoring will continue on these project areas for at least five years to complete the statistical analysis.

Projects prior to 2008 did not have adequate baseline data for statistical analysis, but success could still be demonstrated on several projects using a weight of evidence approach relying on before and after photo documentation and post-project data supporting compliance with water quality standards and the removal of waters from the NM §303(d) impaired waters list. This approach was applied to projects on the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez Mountains, and the Lower Santa Fe River, and both projects passed a thorough U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review and were recognized as official Nonpoint Source Success Stories. A highlight of the program in 2011 was the completion of the Santa Fe River Success Story, culminating with a site visit from Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, to recognize the successful restoration project.

The experience gained through this project led to several recommendations for future monitoring, including reviewing changes to the NM §303(d) list for potential success stories, improving coordination with cooperators and staff in developing monitoring plans, continuing monitoring long enough to account for vegetative growth lag time, and prioritizing pre and post monitoring periods for efficiency. SWQB plans to implement these recommendations and continue the NPS Effectiveness Assessment as an ongoing element of the Nonpoint Source Management Program, in order to document success and to learn from watershed efforts that may not be as successful.

For more information, please contact Daniel Guevara at the e-address or phone number provided above.


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