The historical development of water quality protection goals and strategies in the United States is reviewed. This review leads to the identification and discussion of three components (i.e., management mechanism, environmental investigation approaches, and environmental assessment and criteria) for establishing a management framework for nonpoint source pollution control. Water quality modeling and ecological risk assessment are the two most important and promising approaches to the operation of the proposed management framework. A conceptual framework that shows the general integrative relationships between water quality modeling and ecological risk assessment is presented.

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