TMDLs at Work: Nutrioso Creek
Moving from Impairment to Delisting
Since the late 1800s, the Nutrioso Valley experienced heavy grazing that contributed to excessive erosion and elevated turbidity levels. The excessive turbidity resulted in unsuitable stream habitat for Nutrioso Creek’s aquatic communities. As a result, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) placed a seven mile stretch of Nutrioso Creek on the state’s section 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies and developed a turbidity TMDL approved in 2000.
Although historic grazing practices were the primary cause of impairment in Nutrioso Creek—it was progressive grazing practices implemented by a committed local landowner that led to the restoration of Nutrioso Creek. TMDL effectiveness monitoring data collected from 2004 to 2006 indicated that Nutrioso Creek met the TMDL load allocation and attained water quality standards. In 2009, Nutrioso Creek was the first waterbody removed from the Arizona’s section 303(d) list of impaired waters due to implementation activities.
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