A variety of methods have been used to assess the effects of pulp and paper mill wastewater discharges on receiving waters. Because individual methods have both strengths and weaknesses, aquatic ecosystem health is best characterized by an approach which integrates several methods. In order to better understand the significance of its effluents in the aquatic environment, the forest products industry is interested in developing a methodology for integrated aquatic health assessments. Discussions in NCASI's membership suggest that it would be desirable for an integrated aquatic assessment methodology to be capable of the following: (i) determine the environmental compatibility of mill effluents, and where compatibility is established, the margins of safety against adverse impacts; (ii) document improvements in environmental quality as contaminant or waste loads are reduced; (iii) provide an early indication of any important adverse impacts related to mill effluents; (iv) extend the framework for interpreting new and subtle measures of aquatic organism and ecosystem health; and (v) provide a framework for integrating, as appropriate, point and non-point source studies conducted by the forest products industry. Soon, NCASI will be assembling a team of experts to assist in creating an integrated assessment methodology consistent with these objectives. This paper provides an overview of integrated monitoring study elements and their strengths and weakness. Also provided is the process by which industry information needs were assessed and the results of that assessment.

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