Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Software Tool for Determining Cause of Ecological Harm to Rivers and Streams

A new web-based tool, the Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System (CADDIS), will hopefully simplify determining the cause of contamination in polluted rivers, streams and estuaries.

Thousands of U.S. water bodies have been identified as polluted, and in many cases, the cause is unknown. There are many possible sources of pollution such as industrial waste, municipal sewage, agricultural runoff, naturally occurring minerals in rock and sand, and biological materials. Before restorative or remedial actions can be taken, the cause of pollution must be determined. By helping to find the source of contamination, state and local organizations will be better able to implement the Clean Water Act.

CADDIS provides a standardized and easily accessible system that should help scientists find, use and share information to determine the causes of pollution. Causal analyses look at stressor-response relationships, meaning the effect of a specific substance or activity (stressor) on the environment. Typical water stressors include excess fine sediments, nutrients, or toxic substances.

The version of CADDIS released today is the first of three. Future versions will include modules to quantify stressor-response relationships, and databases and syntheses of relevant literature on sediments and toxic metals.

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