The U.S.Environmental Protection Agency has developed nutrient criteria using ecoregions to manage and protect rivers and streams in the United States. Individual states and tribes are encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to modify or improve upon the ecoregion approach. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board uses a dichotomous process that stratifies streams using environmental characteristics such as stream order and stream slope. This process is called the Use Support Assessment Protocols, subchapter15. The Use Support Assessment Protocols can be used to identify streams threatened by excessive amounts of nutrients, dependant upon a beneficial use designation for each stream. The Use Support Assessment Protocols, subchapter 15 uses nutrient and environmental characteristic thresholds developed from a study conducted in the Netherlands, but the Oklahoma Water Resources Board wants to modify the thresholds to reflect hydrologic and ecological conditions relevant to Oklahoma streams and rivers.
Environmental characteristics thought to affect impairment from nutrient concentrations in Oklahoma streams and rivers were determined for 798 water-quality sites in Oklahoma. Nutrient, chlorophyll, water-properties, and location data were retrieved from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency STORET database including data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, and Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Drainage-basin area, stream order, stream slope, and land-use proportions were determined for each site using a Geographic Information System. The methods, procedures, and data sets used to determine the environmental characteristics are described.