In 1973, the U.S. Geological Survey initiated a study of the Willamette River, Oregon, to determine the major causes of dissolved oxygen (DO) depletion, and whether advanced treatment of municipal wastewaters was needed to achieve the DO standards. The study showed that rates of carbonaceous decay were low (kr = 0.03-0.06/day) and that point-source loadings of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) accounted for less than one-third of the satisfied oxygen demand. Nitrification of industrially discharged ammonia was the dominant cause of DO depletion. The study led to the calibration and verification of a steady-state DO model which was used to examine selected scenarios of BOD loading, ammonia loading, and flow augmentation. In 1976, the modeling projections for the Willamette River were presented to resource managers. A review in 1981 indicated that the State of Oregon had instituted an effluent standard on the major discharger of ammonia, rescinded an order for all municipal wastewaters to receive advanced secondary treatment by 1980, and more fully acknowledged the need for flow augmentation during summer to attain the DO standards.