The environmental audit. II. Application to stream network design

James A. Perry, David J. Schaeffer, Harold W. Kerster, Edwin E. Herricks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The planning and execution of water quality management programs requires careful collection and analysis of data coupled with a systematic review and analysis of programmatic success. The environmental audit is a tool which facilitates improved water quality planning and management. This article demonstrates the utility of the environmental audit by reviewing portions of a comprehensive review of the water quality management program for the state of Idaho. The audit is a tool which forces careful design of a sampling program before data are collected. In the audit approach, program objectives are clearly stated prior to initiation of sampling. Stated objectives are also evaluated regularly to identify tension points, that is, conflicts between expectations and reality. In the example taken from Idaho, a management review team followed a directive to redesign the water quality monitoring program. We present a summary of the redesign as proposed by that team, to illustrate the results of a typical review of monitoring programs. That summary is followed by an example of how the proposed program would differ if the audit approach had been used. The two approaches offered both coincident and conflicting recommendations. Management review team and audit recommendations for lake sampling programs were similar even though a different process was used to develop the recommendations. The most striking contrast between the two results lies in the review team's approach to the problem. The directives followed, and the team's responses, concentrate on tools, such as increasing biological monitoring or reliance on monthly BWMP stations. In contrast, the audit results stress addressing management questions for which clear objectives have been stated, depending on specific tools only as needed to meet stated objectives. Although the audit does integrate externalities in its structure, it is little affected by economic or political influences. A major strength of the audit approach is its ability to provide defensible data for management decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental management
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1985


  • Environmental audit
  • Idaho
  • Water quality data
  • Water quality management


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