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Guzman J.A.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Chu M.L.,Waterborne Environmental Inc. | Starks P.J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Moriasi D.N.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Quality | Year: 2014

The presence of non-stationary conditions in long-term hydrologic observation networks is associated with natural and anthropogenic stressors or network operation problems. Detection and identification of network operation drivers is fundamental in hydrologic investigation due to changes in systematic errors that can exacerbate modeling results or bias research conclusions. We applied a data screening procedure to the USDA-ARS experimental watersheds data sets ( in Oklahoma. Detection of statistically significant monotonic trends and changes in mean and variance were used to investigate non-stationary conditions with network operation drivers to assess the impact of changes in the amount of systematic error. Detection of spurious data, filling in missing data, and data screening procedures were applied to >1000 time series, and processed data were made publicly available. The SPELLmap application was used for data processing and statistical tests on watershed segregated data sets and temporally aggregated data. A test for independency (Anderson test), normality, monotonic trend (Spearman test), detection of change point (Pettitt test), and split record test (F and t-tests) were used to assess non-stationary conditions. Statistically significant (95% confidence limit) monotonic trends and changes in mean and variance were detected for annual maximum air temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, and solar radiation and in maximum and minimum soil temperature time series. Network operation procedures such as change in calibration protocols and sensor upgrades as well as natural regional weather trends were suspected as driving the detection of statistically significant trends and changes in mean and variance. We concluded that a data screening procedure that identifies changes in systematic errors and detection of false non-stationary conditions in hydrologic problems is fundamental before any modeling applications. © American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Source

Winchell M.F.,Stone Environmental Inc. | Snyder N.J.,Waterborne Environmental Inc.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry | Year: 2014

A primary component to human health risk assessments required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the registration of pesticides is an estimation of concentrations in surface drinking water predicted by environmental models. The assumptions used in the current regulatory modeling approach are designed to be "conservative", resulting in higher predicted pesticide concentrations than would actually occur in the environment. This paper compiles previously reported modeling and monitoring comparisons and shows that current regulatory modeling methods result in predictions that universally exceed observed concentrations from the upper end of their distributions. In 50% of the modeling/monitoring comparisons, model predictions were more than 229 times greater than the observations, while, in 25% of the comparisons, model predictions were more than 4500 times greater than the observations. The causes for these overpredictions are identified, followed by suggestions for alternative modeling approaches that would result in predictions of pesticide concentrations closer to those observed. © 2013 American Chemical Society. Source

Munoz-Carpena R.,University of Florida | Ritter A.,Waterborne Environmental Inc. | Fox G.A.,Oklahoma State University | Perez-Ovilla O.,Bayer CropScience
Chemosphere | Year: 2015

Vegetative filter strips (VFS) are a widely adopted practice for limiting pesticide transport from adjacent fields to receiving waterbodies. The efficacy of VFS depends on site-specific input factors. To elucidate the complex and non-linear relationships among these factors requires a process-based modeling framework. Previous research proposed linking existing higher-tier environmental exposure models with a well-tested VFS model (VFSMOD). However, the framework assumed pesticide mass stored in the VFS was not available for transport in subsequent storm events. A new pesticide mass balance component was developed to estimate surface pesticide residue trapped in the VFS and its degradation between consecutive runoff events. The influence and necessity of the updated framework on acute and chronic estimated environmental concentrations (EECs) and percent reductions in EECs were investigated across three, 30-year U.S. EPA scenarios: Illinois corn, California tomato, and Oregon wheat. The updated framework with degradation predicted higher EECs than the existing framework without degradation for scenarios with greater sediment transport, longer VFS lengths, and highly sorbing and persistent pesticides. Global sensitivity analysis (GSA) assessed the relative importance of mass balance and degradation processes in the context of other input factors like VFS length (VL), organic-carbon sorption coefficient (. Koc), and soil and water half-lives. Considering VFS pesticide residue and degradation was not important if single, large runoff events controlled transport, as is typical for higher percentiles considered in exposure assessments. Degradation processes become more important when considering percent reductions in acute or chronic EECs, especially under scenarios with lower pesticide losses. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Burton G.A.,University of Michigan | Basu N.,McGill University | Ellis B.R.,University of Michigan | Kapo K.E.,Waterborne Environmental Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2014

Use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in unconventional reservoirs to recover previously inaccessible oil and natural gas is rapidly expanding in North America and elsewhere. Although hydraulic fracturing has been practiced for decades, the advent of more technologically advanced horizontal drilling coupled with improved slickwater chemical formulations has allowed extensive natural gas and oil deposits to be recovered from shale formations. Millions of liters of local groundwaters are utilized to generate extensive fracture networks within these low-permeability reservoirs, allowing extraction of the trapped hydrocarbons. Although the technology is relatively standardized, the geographies and related policies and regulations guiding these operations vary markedly. Some ecosystems are more at risk from these operations than others because of either their sensitivities or the manner in which the HVHF operations are conducted. Generally, the closer geographical proximity of the susceptible ecosystem to a drilling site or a location of related industrial processes, the higher the risk of that ecosystem being impacted by the operation. The associated construction of roads, power grids, pipelines, well pads, and water-extraction systems along with increased truck traffic are common to virtually all HVHF operations. These operations may result in increased erosion and sedimentation, increased risk to aquatic ecosystems from chemical spills or runoff, habitat fragmentation, loss of stream riparian zones, altered biogeochemical cycling, and reduction of available surface and hyporheic water volumes because of withdrawal-induced lowering of local groundwater levels. The potential risks to surface waters from HVHF operations are similar in many ways to those resulting from agriculture, silviculture, mining, and urban development. Indeed, groundwater extraction associated with agriculture is perhaps a larger concern in the long term in some regions. Understanding the ecological impacts of these anthropogenic activities provides useful information for evaluations of potential HVHF hazards. Geographic information system-based modeling combined with strategic site monitoring has provided insights into the relative importance of these and other ecoregion and land-use factors in discerning potential HVHF impacts. Recent findings suggest that proper siting and operational controls along with strategic monitoring can reduce the potential for risks to aquatic ecosystems. Nevertheless, inadequate data exist to predict ecological risk at this time. The authors suggest considering the plausibility of surface water hazards associated with the various HVHF operations in terms of the ecological context and in the context of relevant anthropogenic activities. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:1679-1689. © 2014 SETAC. Source

Andrus J.M.,Waterborne Environmental Inc. | Winter D.,Rhithron Associates Inc. | Scanlan M.,MapTech Inc. | Sullivan S.,Rhithron Associates Inc. | And 4 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2013

Numerous studies characterizing the potential effects of atrazine on algal assemblages have been conducted using micro- or mesocosms; however, few evaluations focused on in situ lotic algal communities, potentially confounding risk assessment conclusions. This exploratory study, conducted at several sites in the midwestern United States where atrazine is commonly used, presents in situ observations of native algal communities relative to atrazine exposure and other parameters. Planktonic and periphytic algae from three streams in three Midwestern states, having historically differing atrazine levels, were sampled over a 16-week period in 2011 encompassing atrazine applications and the summer algal growth period at each site. Changes in abundance, diversity, and composition of algal communities were placed in the context of hydrological, climatic, and water quality parameters (including components sometimes present in agricultural runoff) also collected during the study. Diatoms dominated communities at each of the three sites and periphyton was much more abundant than phytoplankton. As expected, significant variations in algal community and environmental parameters were observed between sites. However, correspondence analysis plots revealed that patterns of temporal variation in algal communities at each site and in periphyton or phytoplankton were dominated by seasonal environmental gradients. Significant concordance in these seasonal patterns was detected among sites and between phytoplankton and periphyton communities (via procrustes Protest analysis), suggesting synchronicity of algal communities across a regional scale. While atrazine concentrations generally exhibited seasonal trends at the study watersheds; no effects on algal abundance, diversity or assemblage structure were observed as a result of atrazine pulses. This lack of response may be due to exposure events of insufficient concentration or duration (consistent with previously reported results) or the composition of the algal assemblages present. This was in contrast to the effects of elevated flow events, which were associated with significant changes in periphyton abundance, diversity and assemblage. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source

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