Date of Award
Master of Science
Geography and Environmental Resources
Water quality has been an issue of concern since the settlement of man and continues to be of great concern today in many locations around the world. In the United States, to address the issues of water pollution, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. This study examines the implementation and prioritization of impaired water bodies listed on the Illinois CWA section 303(d) list between 1992 and 2004. This study used the Delphi survey method to obtain opinions from water quality/management experts that reside in the state of Illinois. The goal of this study was to determine if a consensus could be reached amongst water quality experts on the severity of individual water pollutants for a given designated use of a water body by assigning weights, determining if any prioritization trends exist within the current Illinois 303(d) process, as well as identifying any shortcomings of the process and suggesting possible modes of improvement. The survey identified four major shortcomings of Illinois' current approach to water quality management: 1) limited funding and manpower, 2) lack of coordination/monitoring, 3) failure to regulate point sources, and 4) lack of biological monitoring. The survey respondents indicated that the entire state needs attention in terms of water quality improvement and that agriculture and urban runoff are the most important sources of water pollution and water body impairment. They rated the current prioritization system as being between "average" and "good" and identified that development of a weighting scheme could be feasible as long as it received adequate funding and adequate stakeholder support. The measure of consensus among respondents regarding weights for individual pollutants and designated uses varied significantly; however, the overwhelming majority of consensus values improved after participants were asked to revise their original responses in an effort to move towards central tendency in the distribution of assigned ranks.
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