[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 39 (Monday, February 28, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 10892-10893]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4375]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-9271-2; Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2011-0187]


Aquatic Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Global Change: Challenges 
of Conducting Multi-Stressor Vulnerability Assessments

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of public comment period.

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SUMMARY: EPA is announcing the release of the draft report titled, 
``Aquatic Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Global Change: Challenges of 
Conducting Multi-stressor Vulnerability Assessments'' (EPA/600/R-11/
011) and a 45-day public comment period for the report. The document 
was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment within 
EPA's Office of Research and Development.
    This draft report investigates the issues and challenges associated 
with identifying, calculating, and mapping indicators of the relative 
vulnerability of water quality and aquatic ecosystems, across the 
United States, to the potential impacts of global change. Using a large 
set of environmental indicators drawn from the scientific and 
management literature, this draft report explores the conceptual and 
practical challenges associated with using such indicators to assess 
how the resilience of ecosystems and human systems may vary as a 
function of existing stresses and maladaptations.
    The public comment period and the external peer review are separate 
processes that provide opportunities for all interested parties to 
comment on the document. EPA intends to forward the public comments 
that are submitted in accordance with this notice to the external peer 
reviewers for their consideration prior to the finalization of their 
review comments. When finalizing the draft document, EPA intends to 
consider any public comments that EPA receives in accordance with this 
notice.
    EPA is releasing this draft document solely for the purpose of pre-
dissemination peer review under applicable information quality 
guidelines. This document has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It 
does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency 
policy or determination.
    The draft document and EPA's peer review charge are available via 
the Internet on the NCEA home page under the Recent Additions and the 
Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

DATES: The 45-day public comment period begins February 28, 2011, and 
ends April 14, 2011. Technical comments should be in writing and must 
be received by EPA by April 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The draft ``Aquatic Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Global 
Change: Challenges of Conducting Multi-stressor Vulnerability 
Assessments'' is available primarily via the Internet on the National 
Center for Environmental Assessments home page under the Recent 
Additions and the Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. A limited number of paper copies are available from the 
Information Management Team, NCEA; telephone: 703-347-8561; facsimile: 
703-347-8691. If you are requesting a paper copy, please provide your 
name, your mailing address, and the document title, ``Aquatic 
Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Global Change: Challenges of Conducting 
Multi-stressor Vulnerability Assessments.'' The EPA's National Service 
Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), P.O. Box 42419, 
Cincinnati, OH 45242; telephone: 1-800-490-9198; facsimile: 301-604-
3408; e-mail: lmit.com">nscep@bps-lmit.com. Please provide your name, your 
mailing address, the title, and the EPA number of the requested 
publication.
    Comments may be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, by mail, by facsimile, or by hand delivery/
courier. Please follow the detailed instructions provided in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the public comment 
period, contact the Office of Environmental Information Docket; 
telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 202-566-1753; or e-mail: 
ORD.Docket@epa.gov.
    For technical information, contact Chris Weaver, NCEA; telephone: 
703-347-8621; facsimile: 703-347-8694; or e-mail: weaver.chris@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Information About the Project/Document

    This draft report investigates the issues and challenges associated 
with identifying, calculating, and mapping indicators of the relative 
vulnerability of water quality and aquatic ecosystems, across the 
United States, to the potential adverse impacts of external forces such 
as long-term climate and land-use change. The draft does not directly 
evaluate the potential impacts of global change on ecosystems and 
watersheds. Rather, it explores the implications of the assumption that 
a systematic evaluation of the impacts of existing stressors will be a 
key input to any comprehensive global change vulnerability assessment, 
as the impacts of global change will be expressed via (perhaps complex) 
interactions with such stressors. This is an assumption with an 
impressive pedigree, but, to date, there has been relatively little 
exploration of the practical challenges associated with assessing how 
the resilience of ecosystems and human systems in the face of global 
change may vary as a function of existing stresses and maladaptations. 
The work described in this draft report is a preliminary attempt at 
such an exploration.
    This draft report takes as its starting point more than 600 
indicators of water quality and aquatic ecosystem condition, along with 
numerous datasets from EPA, other Federal agencies, and other 
organizations, as a testbed for identifying challenges and best 
practices (as well as gaps in ideas, methods, data, and tools) for 
calculating and mapping vulnerability nationally. Specifically:
     Challenges associated with identifying those indicators 
that speak specifically to ``vulnerability'' as opposed to those 
reflecting simply a state or condition;
     Challenges associated with calculating and estimating the 
values of these vulnerability indicators, including establishing 
important indicator thresholds that reflect abrupt or large changes in 
the vulnerability of water quality or aquatic ecosystems;
     Challenges associated with mapping these vulnerability 
indicators nationally, including data availability and spatial 
aggregation of the data;
     Challenges associated with combining and compositing 
indicators and developing multi-indicator indices of vulnerability.
    This draft report is intended to be one building block for future 
work on multi-stressor global change vulnerability assessments. It is 
hoped that it will contribute to improved links between the decision 
support needs of the water quality and aquatic ecosystem management 
communities and the priorities and capabilities of the global

[[Page 10893]]

change science data and modeling communities.

II. How To Submit Technical Comments to the Docket at http://www.regulations.gov

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD 2011-
0187, by one of the following methods:
     http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line 
instructions for submitting comments.
     E-mail: ORD.Docket@epa.gov.
     Fax: 202-566-1753.
     Mail: Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket 
(Mail Code: 2822T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. The phone number is 202-
566-1752.
     Hand Delivery: The OEI Docket is located in the EPA 
Headquarters Docket Center, Room 3334 EPA West Building, 1301 
Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center's Public 
Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public 
Reading Room is 202-566-1744. Such deliveries are only accepted during 
the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should 
be made for deliveries of boxed information.
    If you provide comments by mail or hand delivery, please submit 
three copies of the comments. For attachments, provide an index, number 
pages consecutively with the comments, and submit an unbound original 
and three copies.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-
2011-0187. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the 
specified comment period. Comments received after the closing date will 
be marked ``late,'' and may only be considered if time permits. It is 
EPA's policy to include all comments it receives in the public docket 
without change and to make the comments available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless a comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or e-
mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous 
access'' system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact 
information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you 
send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be automatically captured 
and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket 
and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic 
comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact 
information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you 
submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties 
and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to 
consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special 
characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or 
viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the 
EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: Documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other materials, 
such as copyrighted material, are publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the OEI Docket in the 
EPA Headquarters Docket Center.

    Dated: February 17, 2011.
Rebecca Clark,
Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
[FR Doc. 2011-4375 Filed 2-25-11; 8:45 am]
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