The aim of the Columbus program was to implement a comprehensive watershed monitoring-network including water chemistry, aquatic biology and alternative sensors to establish water environment health and methods for determining future restoration progress and early warning for protection of drinking water supplies. The program was implemented to comply with USA regulatory requirements including Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) rules of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) rules under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The USEPA Office of Research and Development and the Water Environment Research Foundation provided quality assurance oversight. The results obtained demonstrated that significant wet weather data is necessary to establish relationships between land use, water chemistry, aquatic biology and sensor data. These measurements and relationships formed the basis for calibrating the US EPA BASINS Model, prioritizing watershed health and determination of compliance with water quality standards. Conclusions specify priorities of cost-effective drainage system controls that attenuate stormwater flows and capture flushed pollutants. A network of permanent long-term real-time monitoring using combination of continuous sensor measurements, water column sampling and aquatic biology surveys and a regional organization is prescribed to protect drinking water supplies and measure progress towards water quality targets.

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