The establishment of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) is part of management process that results in the institution of watershed-based controls of otherwise unregulated sources of pollution. In California (USA), the implementation of a TMDL is driven forward in a process where watershed stakeholders are expected to cooperate on actions needed to improve ecosystem health. In the TMDL process, methods are needed for synthesizing complex scientific data into actionable management information. Where pollutant load analysis may be misleading or perceived as unfair, non-parametric statistical methods can be applied to flow and water quality data to guide the selection of drainages for remediation. The calculation of normalized rank means (NRMs) for flow and water quality can be used to set priorities for the implementation of TMDL management actions. Drainages can be classified into one of four categories (quadrants) based on the relationship between flow and water quality NRMs. Drainages can be included or excluded from management action based on their quadrant classification. Although there are many possible alternative approaches, this “quadrant analysis” is suggested as a scientifically rigorous methods for identifying priority watersheds in the often contentious, stakeholder driven TMDL implementation process.

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