Poster Presentations

Agenda subject to change.
Updated 20 March 2019


Posters will be showcased during the 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Poster Viewing time on Wednesday, March 27. Check the index card by each poster to see when the presenter will be available throughout the week to answer questions.


Water Quality Prediction: State of the Art and Future Directions

01 Using Hydrologic Indices to Continuously Estimate Sediment and Mercury Concentrations, Alexandra Etheridge, USGS

  • Abstract

    Using Hydrologic Indices to Continuously Estimate Sediment and Mercury Concentrations
    Alexandra Etheridge
    US Geological Survey, California Water Science Center, Sacramento, California

    The use of hydrologic indices as surrogates to estimate continuous sediment and sediment-bound constituent concentration has potential for large-scale implementation. Hydrologic indices can be computed using automated processors in the US Geological Survey National Water Information System Time Series (NWIS-TS) database. Hydrologic indices derived from continuous streamflow were determined to be significant predictors of total mercury concentration at two headwaters streams in a Central Idaho mining area. Streamflow derivatives were further explored as potentially significant explanatory variables for sediment surrogates in an urban stream in California. Two hydrologic index terms were used. The first index term used base flow index (BFI) to weight streamflow. The second hydrologic index term used the ratio of mean daily streamflow to daily range in streamflow (Qrange) and significantly improved model fit in one example. A Qrange index close to 1 results from any sudden increase in streamflow commonly observed in flashy urban or mountain headwaters streams. The examples where this method worked will be shown and large-scale potential applications discussed.

02 Estimating Watershed Mercury Contribution to Lake Fort Smith State Park, Arkansas, USA, William Harmon, USGS

  • Abstract

    Estimating Watershed Mercury Contribution to Lake Fort Smith State Park, Arkansas, USA
    William Harmon and Phil D. Hays
    US Geological Survey/University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

    Mercury contamination associated with human activities poses global human health and environmental risks. A fish-consumption advisory has been in effect at Lake Fort Smith in central west Arkansas for more than a decade due to observed methylmercury concentrations in fish tissue. Lake Fort Smith is an important municipal drinking water supply and recreational resource. Water samples from the majority contributing tributary stream, Frog Bayou creek, were collected periodically, under differing hydrologic conditions in order to quantify the allochthonous mercury load delivered to the lake. Temperature, specific conductance, and turbidity data were collected and used to estimate dissolved organic carbon, methylmercury and mercury concentration in Frog Bayou creek. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration has been previously shown to have a strong correlation with total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) presence and mobility in surface waters. Whereas a weak correlation was observed between DOC and THg concentrations (r2 = 0.47), the relation between turbidity and THg was strong (r2 = 0.95), enabling use of turbidity as a proxy for the estimation of influx of THg in Frog Bayou creek. Analysis of water samples collected from streamflow indicated very little methylmercury contribution from the watershed, suggesting methylation of mercury is occurring predominantly within the body of Lake Fort Smith itself. Turbidity proved an inexpensive, realtime proxy for quantitative determination of mercury and methylmercury load in streamflow. This methodology provided better understanding of variations in mercury concentrations under differing hydrologic regimes and provided a tool for long-term watershed mercury load approximation to Lake Fort Smith.

03 Mesocosm Studies: Key to Causal Inferences and the Development of Predictive Models of Ecosystem Responses, Travis Schmidt, USGS

  • Abstract

    Mesocosm Studies: Key to Causal Inferences and the Development of Predictive Models of Ecosystem Responses
    Travis S. Schmidt1, Janet L. Miller1, Christopher Mebane2, Peter C. Van Metre3, Christopher P. Konrad4, and Stephen D. Whitlock5
    1US Geological Survey, Fort Collins, Colorado; 2US Geological Survey, Idaho Water Science Center, Boise, Idaho; 3Texas Water Science Center, Austin, Texas; 4Tacoma Water Science Center, Tacoma, Washington; 5US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia

    Biomonitoring programs for the past 50 years have been describing how freshwater ecosystems respond to disturbance. Most commonly this is done through empirical statistical models that relate freshwater community responses to, for example, changes in water quality. Statistical associations, however, are not definitive evidence of causation, and although empirical models can demonstrate how management has affected ecosystems, resource managers increasingly need predictive tools. Predictive models in ecology have been elusive due in part, to the limited use of mesocosm studies to verify key stressor-response associations. In the 1970s and 1980s mesocosm studies were in vogue but fell from favor owing to criticisms such as they: lack ecological realism, lack experimental control, have limited reproducibility, produce highly variable (noisy) data, and finally, are cumbersome to execute. Through a series of case studies at the US Geological Survey Aquatic Experimental Laboratory (AXL), we show that these criticisms are exaggerated. We demonstrate that results from AXL are reproducible, can provide direct evidence of dose-response relations, identify complex ecological responses such as trophic cascades and effects on multiple life stages, and can be extrapolated to ecosystems. Finally, we show two examples of how mesocosm studies at AXL were used to parameterize water quality models predictive of ecological responses. Thus, when mesocosms are used to augment field observations and modeling, ecological studies can move beyond empirical description and toward more causative and predictive science.

04 Statistical Models for Load Estimation Using Real Time Water Quality Monitoring, Slater Smith, University of Arkansas

  • Abstract

    Statistical Models for Load Estimation Using Real Time Water Quality Monitoring
    Slater Smith and Brian Haggard

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

    Nonpoint source pollution can range from any chemicals, nutrients or sediment that is transported into a body of water by precipitation, land runoff or other means. These pollutants can cause a variety of water quality issues such as harmful algal blooms, poor water clarity or deposition of toxins. It is important to quantify and monitor these pollutants so as to reduce or eliminate the water quality issues they cause. Constituent loads have been quantified traditionally by estimation using relationships between discharge and concentrations. Because this method requires frequent sampling to achieve representation across the hydrograph it is not always accurate in predicting loads. Automated sampling is one way to accomplish this; however, it has proven to be expensive and require frequent operation and maintenance. Recently, real time water quality monitoring with in-situ sensors has allowed for continuous data collection for discharge, turbidity, temperature and other parameters. There are currently two active, real time sensors in Fayetteville, Arkansas in Town Branch Creek, a tributary of the White River, and Mud Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River. Using real time data from these two urban sites, statistical models can be built to estimate loads such as total suspended solids, total phosphorous and total nitrogen. These models can then be validated against data collected by the United States Geological Survey. Once validated, loads calculated from these models can be compared to those calculated by traditional regression models.

05 The Metabolism of Streams and Rivers in the US, Edward Stets, USGS

  • Abstract

    The Metabolism of Streams and Rivers in the US
    E.G. Stets1, A.P. Appling2, J.S. Read3, C. Yackulic4, J.W. Harvey5, and B. Deemer4
    1US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 2US Geological Survey, State College, Pennsylvania; 3US Geological Survey, Middleton, Wisconsin; 4US Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona; 5US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia

    The collective functions of organic matter production and mineralization in river ecosystems, called river metabolism, are key components of the ecosystem which constrain aquatic food webs, affect water quality, and drive the biogeochemical cycling of numerous constituents. Despite the recognized importance of gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) to river ecosystems and biogeochemistry, concepts about the magnitude, timing, and drivers of river metabolism remain poorly developed because most of the studies have been based on short-term datasets at local watershed scales, which has led to disparate conclusions. Here we report the results of a unified effort to model GPP, ER, and net ecosystem production (NEP = GPP + ER) for 129 US rivers. Our models derived estimates of GPP and ER from near-continuous high-frequency oxygen datasets collected at USGS river gages. Across all site-years, median GPP was 153 g C m-2 yr-1 with ER and NEP having medians of -484 and -342 g C m-2 yr-1, respectively. The majority of rivers were net heterotrophic (NEP < 0) on an annual basis, with 569 of 637 river-years having negative NEP, emphasizing the importance of exogenous organic inputs to river metabolism. Patterns in the magnitude and timing of GPP and ER were differentiated between large and small rivers as well as rivers located in high versus low latitudes. On a per-area basis, rivers have low GPP in comparison with other ecosystems such as lakes, estuaries, and terrestrial biomes, and are comparable to the GPP of the open ocean. Through simple upscaling we estimated that the total river GPP, ER, and NEP in the conterminous US are 6.9, -19, and -12 Tg C yr-1, respectively. This study mostly confirmed the major concepts of river metabolic theory, and the aggregated data and modeling approach serve as a platform for future studies connecting river metabolism to disturbance regimes, anthropogenic effects, and the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients.

06 Temporal Variations of Discharge and Water Quality Observed and Simulated from 1992 to 2015 at Five Research Watersheds in the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budget Program, Richard M.T. Webb, USGS

  • Abstract

    Temporal Variations of Discharge and Water Quality Observed and Simulated From 1992 to 2015 at Five Research Watersheds in the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budget Program
    Richard M.T. Webb1, Jamie B. Shanley2, David W. Clow1, M. Alisa Mast1, Sheila F. Murphy3, Robert F. Stallard3, Brent T. Aulenbach4, and Randy Hunt5
    1US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado; 2US Geological Survey, Montpelier, Vermont; 3US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 4US Geological Survey, Norcross, Georgia; 5US Geological Survey, Madison, Wisconsin

    The Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budget (WEBB) Program was established in 1992 to better understand the fluxes of water and solutes through natural landscapes and to estimate how these fluxes may change given a variety of future climate scenarios. This presentation will describe temporal variations in the quantity and quality of water observed from 1992 to 2015 at the five WEBB watersheds: (1) the granitic slopes flanking the Continental Divide that drain to Loch Vale, Colorado; (2) the sandy glacial outwash feeding Trout Lake, Wisconsin; (3) the forests and pastures draining through carbonates of Sleepers River, Vermont; (4) the granitic outcrops of Panola Mountain, Georgia; and (5) the weathered granodiorite in the rainforest of Luquillo Mountain, Puerto Rico. Constituents, including major ions, stable isotopes, dissolved organic carbon, and mercury originate from the atmosphere, from the bedrock, or both. The origin and the residence time of these constituents in various reservoirs affects the response to floods, droughts, and increasing temperature. The observed variations in concentrations and fluxes will be compared to those simulated by the USGS Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD).


Emerging Risks in Water Quality

07 Partnerships in Preventing PAH Pollution Across National Watersheds: Lessons Learned in Coordinating Legislation, Funding, and Best Practices Across States, Lillian Power, Department of Energy & Environment Washington, DC

  • Abstract

    Partnerships in Preventing PAH Pollution Across National Watersheds: Lessons Learned in Coordinating Legislation, Funding, and Best Practices Across States
    Lillian Power1, Zachary Rybarczyk1, Katherine Antos1, and Rebecca Esselman2
    1Department of Energy and Environment, Washington, District of Columbia; 2Huron River Watershed Council, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    The goal of this session is to identify new potential sources of PAH pollution to participants and highlight coordinated partnerships across watersheds that have assisted the District of Columbia in addressing concerns with toxic contaminants in its rivers. Through coordination with the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has been able to identify issues with current regulation aimed at preventing PAHs from entering District waterways and assist in developing solutions that could be applied nationally.

    Coal tar pavement sealant bans exist in 9 states across the US and Washington, DC. These laws were passed to protect local waterways from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a known toxic in many urban waterways, including Washington, DC’s Anacostia River. New, coal tar-free products are now available that are not subject to the current bans but contain PAH levels high enough to pose a risk to human health and aquatic life. These new sealants are byproducts of petroleum distillation (Ethylene Cracker Residues or ECRs).

    While researching these new products, DOEE encountered several US jurisdictions that have introduced legislation that include PAH limits to prevent these high-PAH products from use. Fifteen southern Michigan townships have passed laws with a 0.1% PAH limit, the strictest legislation of its kind in the country. DOEE has worked closely with HRWC, responsible for coordinating legislation between the fifteen jurisdictions in Michigan, to identify new opportunities for improving regulation and enforcement.

    DOEE and HRWC identified the lack of public information about pavement sealant products as a significant barrier to passing and enforcing legislation with PAH limits. PAH concentrations are either not tested or made public by manufacturers. HRWC and DOEE are pursuing funding to establish a standardized, national certification program for pavement sealants. With a sealant certification program, jurisdictions with proposed or passed PAH limit laws in place will be able to identify compliant products and provide guidance to sealant applicators. Businesses, contractors, and residents interested in making environmentally-friendly choices will be able to make informed decisions when sealing their properties, regardless of whether sealant products are regulated in their area.

08 Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Plan for Contaminants of Emerging Concern, Savannah Tjaden, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Abstract

    Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Plan for Contaminants of Emerging Concern
    Cheyenne Coxon, Ella Golovey, Alexander Stejskal, Savannah Tjaden, and Tiffany Tran
    Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, California

    Denver Water supplies drinking water to approximately 1.4 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. The Upper South Platte Watershed is the primary water source, feeding two of the three drinking water treatment plants that serve the city. While Denver Water has acted to reduce known threats to water quality in its source water systems, little is known about contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). CECs are chemicals that are unregulated and have unknown impacts on human and environmental health. Given the alarming rate at which humans generate and release CECs, there is a need for identifying and targeting specific CECs and abating them at their sources in the watershed.

    We analyzed 5 years of monitoring data from Denver Water and developed a risk-based prioritization scheme for CECs found in the South Platte watershed. Risk was determined by considering pollutant toxicity, treatment efficiency, compound persistence, and likelihood of regulation to assign a priority to CECs. A short-term summer CEC monitoring program was created for 2018 to more extensively monitor high and medium-high priority contaminants. Using the summer monitoring results, we will develop a watershed level model to determine which CECs pose the greatest risk to Denver Water now, and in 3 possible future scenarios. Based on the model results, we will perform a cost-effectiveness assessment of possible watershed management actions and offer management recommendations for taking preventative measures to minimize the impact of CECs into the Upper South Platte Watershed. These deliverables will allow Denver Water to narrow down what CECs they should be monitoring for, inform their decision-making process in managing CECs and take the necessary steps to minimize the impacts of CECs in the South Platte watershed to continue to ensure safe drinking water.


Monitoring Water Across a Changing Hydrologic Cycle

09 Dissolved Organic Carbon Concentration and Composition of Coastal and Major Inland Rivers in the USGS National Water Quality Network, Sara Breitmeyer, USGS

  • Abstract

    Dissolved Organic Carbon Concentration and Composition of Coastal and Major Inland Rivers in the USGS National Water Quality Network
    Sara E. Breitmeyer and Brett A. Poulin
    US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado

    Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is ubiquitous to aquatic environments and the concentration and composition of DOM exerts control on numerous processes for water resource management (e.g., contaminants fate, drinking water treatment). This presentation will highlight dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and DOM composition data from 41 hydrologically diverse rivers monitored through the USGS National Water Quality Network (NWQN) from water years 2008 through 2017 (> 2200 discrete analyses). The data collected includes DOC concentration, optical measurements of ultraviolet and visible (UV-vis) light absorption and fluorescence, and chromatographic separation into operational fractions. UV-vis light absorption measurements at 254 nm were corrected for the contribution of iron(III). Optical parameters were determined including the specific ultraviolet absorbance at 254 nm (SUVA254), spectral slope (SS), spectral slope ratio (SR), and fluorescence index (FI).

    We describe datasets comparing DOC concentration and spectral properties across the 41 NWQN river sites, and present relationships between UV-vis absorption coefficients at several wavelengths and DOC concentration. For individual rivers, the UV-vis absorption measurement at 254 nm was a good predictor of the amount of DOM classified as hydrophobic organic acids by chromatographic separation. Further, we identify an iron(III) concentration threshold for major rivers (iron(III):DOC > 0.02 mg mg-1) at which iron(III) contributes > 5% to UV-vis absorption measurements at 254 nm. Of the 41 rivers sampled, 16 are within the Mississippi River Basin. We compare hydrologic controls on DOC concentration and DOM composition for these 16 sites within the Mississippi River Basin and calculate the DOC and chromophoric DOM (CDOM) loading from the 16 sub-basins to several main stem sites (four in total) using LOADEST. Information provided by these datasets is a valuable resource to track long-term trends in DOC concentration and DOM composition across major US rivers and will aid future efforts to predict and model DOC response to environmental perturbations (e.g., changes in land or water use practices, landscape disturbances).

10 The National Ecological Observatory Network: Monitoring Changes in Stream Morphology and Biological Habitat at the Continental Scale., Nicolas Harrison, Battelle Ecology

  • Abstract

    The National Ecological Observatory Network: Monitoring Changes in Stream Morphology and Biological Habitat at the Continental Scale
    Nicolas Harrison, Melissa Slater, Rachel Krauss, and Dylan Monahan
    National Ecological Observatory Network, Boulder, Colorado

    A detailed understanding of the form and function of stream channels, and the biological habitats contained within them is critical in order to assess how both fluvial systems interact with surrounding landscapes and how they change with shifting hydrologic cycles over time. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) collects high-resolution channel geometry data, measures streambed composition, and delineates biological habitats within monitoring reach boundaries (1 km) at 24 aquatic monitoring sites across the United States. Geomorphological monitoring will occur over a 30-year period, at approximately five-year intervals per site, beginning in 2017. Additional surveys will be instituted following stochastic events, such as hurricanes and large floods, in order to assess event magnitude and quantify effects on fluvial morphology.

    A robotic total station is utilized to collect survey data at each NEON aquatic wadable stream site. Longitudinal profile surveys characterize thalweg slope and depth, and multiple cross-sectional surveys assess channel capacity at targeted locations throughout the monitoring reach. Maps are produced from survey data which illustrate biological habitat boundaries and physical channel features such as large woody debris jams, mid-channel bars, islands, waterfalls, beaver dams, and tributaries.

    Stream morphology is an important component in understanding ecological processes and a critical metric for assessing biological and physical changes in streams over time. Data collected during NEON geomorphology surveys will help quantify the impacts of climate change on fluvial systems, aid in watershed management decisions, assess habitat conditions, and provide a foundation for hydrodynamic modeling efforts across a variety of eco-regions in the United States. Over the next 30 years, NEON aims to provide these data to the community in order to better understand the degree in which aquatic ecosystems are changing at the continental scale.

11 Long-Term Monitoring of the Lake Houston Watershed — Evaluating the Water-Quality Response to Extreme Hydrologic Events in a Municipal Supply Reservoir, Zulimar Lucena, USGS

  • Abstract

    Long-Term Monitoring of the Lake Houston Watershed — Evaluating the Water-Quality Response to Extreme Hydrologic Events in a Municipal Supply Reservoir
    Zulimar Lucena
    US Geological Survey, Houston, Texas

    Lake Houston is a municipal supply reservoir with a storage capacity of 124,000 acre-feet that was impounded in 1954 to help meet future water supply needs of the Houston, Texas region. In recent years, Lake Houston has become an increasingly important water resource as the Houston region transitions from using groundwater as their main water source to surface water, a measure implemented to reduce land subsidence resulting from continuous groundwater withdrawals. The US Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the City of Houston, has collected water-quality data from Lake Houston and its contributing watersheds for more than a decade. Water-quality monitoring by the USGS includes the collection of discrete and continuous water-quality data in Lake Houston and its tributaries. Water-quality samples are collected every month at two stations in Lake Houston and four inflow sites and are analyzed for constituent groups such as nutrients, metals, major ions, phytoplankton, and taste and odor causing compounds and. Continuous monitoring stations, that collect temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen concentration, pH, and turbidity data, include a profiling water-quality platform on the lake and six additional fixed-depth monitors across the watershed. Two of these fixed-depth monitors are deployed on platforms in Lake Houston and the remaining four are installed at various stream sites upstream from Lake Houston. The long-term nature of this study has resulted in a dataset representing a wide range of hydrologic conditions at the watershed scale, including periods of extreme drought and flood events, such as Hurricane Harvey. The data collected as part of this study are used to assess the effects of extreme events on the water-quality of Lake Houston during and after their occurrence and are essential to the decision-making process of City of Houston water managers regarding short and long-term water treatment operations. Preliminary results of this study show the viability of the monitoring network for evaluating water-quality variability at the watershed scale under varying hydrologic conditions and highlight the network’s applicability as a decision support tool for water treatment operations.

12 Long-Term Coastal Water Quality Monitoring in Pacific Island National Parks, David Raikow, National Park Service

  • Abstract

    Long-Term Coastal Water Quality Monitoring in Pacific Island National Parks
    David Raikow, Amanda McCutcheon, and Anne Farahi
    National Park Service, Hawaii National Park, Hawaii

    Marine water quality was monitored along the coasts of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park on the Island of Hawaiʻi, Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokaʻi, War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam, and National Park of American Samoa on Tutuila and Ofu by the National Park Service, Inventory and Monitoring Division, Pacific Island Network. Total dissolved phosphorus, total dissolved nitrogen, nitrate+nitrite, temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, and pH were measured from 2008 to 2015. Results included the ranges of water quality parameter values under normal conditions, dissolved and particulate nutrient fractions, correlation of surface and bottom samples, spatial patterns, seasonal patterns, and long-term trends. No detrimental trends in water quality were detected. Temporal trends were detected in temperature and salinity and explained by the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Insights were gained into coastal marine water quality monitoring methodology especially with regard to the inappropriateness of split-panel design.

13 The Importance of Monitoring and Researching Mercury in the Environment, Paul Schuster, USGS

  • Abstract

    The Importance of Monitoring and Researching Mercury in the Environment
    Paul Schuster1, Rick Webb2, and Don Rosenberry2
    1US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 2US Geological Survey, Lakewood, Colorado

    Here, we describe several examples of monitoring and research to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of mercury (Hg) in small-scale watersheds and world-wide ecosystems. Monitoring Hg in the environment is challenging for several reasons. Mercury is a ubiquitous pollutant that is found in every niche of the Earth’s ecosystems at detection levels in the picograms, thus, field and lab technicians can easily contaminate samples with Hg. Moreover, the biogeochemistry of Hg is inherently complicated simply because of the number of oxidation states found in the environment. Thus, if the goal or objective is to monitor to establish a baseline or synoptic distribution of Hg to which future changing baselines can be compared (i.e., climate change forcing), then the sampling and analysis must be designed to accurately quantify a baseline and identify the redox reactions involved (i.e., methylation), the transport pathways, and the presence of sources and sinks along the transport path. Results from well planned and executed monitoring programs will aid decision-making processes for regulation, mitigation, and policy decisions by stakeholders and resource managers. Ultimately, Hg monitoring and research will lead to the development and refinement of conceptual and numerical models needed by resource managers to protect the health of humans and ecosystems.

14 Impacts of Fire on Mercury Transport and Microbial Processes in the Russian River Watershed, Sonoma County, California, Jennifer Underwood, USGS

  • Abstract

    Impacts of Fire on Mercury Transport and Microbial Processes in the Russian River Watershed, Sonoma County, California
    Jennifer Underwood1, Michelle Newcomer2, Todd Schram3, Ronald Harvey1, David Roth1, Paul Bliznik1, Madeline Smedt3, Don Seymour3, Marcus Trotta3, Jay Jasperse3, and Susan Hubbard2
    1US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 2Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California; 3Sonoma County Water Agency, Santa Rosa, California

    Between October 2017 and July 2018, wildfires burned more than 500,000 acres within Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, including one that is the largest recorded in California history. The burned areas are a mix of steep mountains, rolling hills and flat valley bottoms that are partially urbanized. Part of the Russian River watershed lies within the burned areas and is critical to the water supply for the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) as well as to endangered Coho salmon. Consequently, there is concern that release of contaminants from burned areas could harm river water quality and pose a threat to water-treatment operations. One risk from the fires involves the release and subsequent transport of inorganic mercury stored in exposed soils. Transport of dissolved and suspended inorganic mercury in river water as well as inorganic mercury in river bottom sediments (0–5 cm) were monitored during the post-fire rainy season (October 2017 – April 2018) in tributaries draining both burned and unburned areas of the Russian River watershed. Monitoring also was performed year-round at a bank-filtration site, operated by Sonoma Water, downgradient from the burned areas to investigate the potential for inorganic mercury accumulation and/or methyl mercury formation when an inflatable dam is seasonally deployed to meet increased demands for potable water. The potential for methyl mercury formation was examined by monitoring for bacteria capable of mercury methylation using Q-PCR for clade-specific hgcA genes. Initial findings indicate that both dissolved and suspended inorganic mercury concentrations increased with increased discharge yet remained well below maximum contaminant levels of 2000 ng/L. However, concentrations of mercury in river bottom sediment were highest in the main stem and in Big Sulfur Creek where concentrations frequently exceeded 200 ng/g which are above background levels of total mercury (4–51 ng/g) suggested by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Tools to Mine, Share, and Visualize Water Quality Data

15 NHDPlus High Resolution, Karen Adkins, USGS

  • Abstract

    NHDPlus High Resolution
    Ariel Doumbouya and Karen Adkins
    US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado

    NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlusHR) is an integrated geospatial data product which incorporates the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) data and the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD). NHDPlusHR is currently being produced and distributed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC). NHDPlus High Resolution data provides all of the NHDPlus Version 2 attributes such as natural flow estimates, flow adjustments for diversions, stream order and much more while providing the additional detail of the current High Resolution NHD and 1/3 arc-second seamless digital elevation models.

16 Web Maps for Assessing Groundwater Quality and Groundwater Quality Trends in California, George Bennett, USGS

  • Abstract

    Web Maps for Assessing Groundwater Quality and Groundwater Quality Trends in California
    George L. Bennett V, Bryant C. Jurgens, Monica Jasper, Dam Nguyen, Kylie Pace, Jeffrey Rutledge, and Miranda S. Fram
    US Geological Survey, Sacramento, California

    We developed two interactive web maps that display groundwater quality results and trends from nearly 3,000 domestic and public-supply wells sampled by the USGS and nearly 13,000 public-supply wells sampled for compliance purposes and reported to the State of California. These web maps were developed by the USGS in cooperation with the California State Water Resources Control Board (CA-SWRCB) as part of the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. The primary purpose of these web maps is to provide the public and state officials with a picture of current groundwater quality conditions in groundwater resources used for drinking-water supplies, and whether that groundwater quality is improving or degrading.

    The water-quality results web map displays the locations and key water-quality results of ongoing groundwater quality testing done by the USGS for the GAMA Program. Results for wells sampled from 2004 to present are available to display and download. Because GAMA uses a stratified random sampling design, the web map provides access to spatially unbiased groundwater quality data-sets representative of groundwater resources used for drinking-water supply throughout California. The map also increases transparency between the public and State and federal programs by delivering data in an easy-to-use format.

    The trends web map for inorganic constituents is focused on the statistical analyses of temporal trends in concentrations of inorganic water-quality constituents in public-supply wells in the State of California. Using data reported to the CA-SWRCB Division of Drinking Water regulatory compliance database from 1974 through 2014 and data collected by the USGS for the GAMA Program, Mann-Kendall and Seasonal Mann-Kendall tests were used to identify long-term, recent, and seasonal trends and trend reversals in wells with at least four concentrations above method detection levels. Spatial patterns of trends can reveal links with historical land-use practices, sources of recharge, and well construction characteristics.

    These web maps are examples of innovative applications that provide valuable information about groundwater quality and trends to cooperators and the public in a simple, accessible, and visually-appealing format.

17 CUAHSI Data Services: Tools and Cyberinfrastructure for Water Data Publication, Discovery, Research, and Collaboration, Liza Brazil, The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.

  • Abstract

    CUAHSI Data Services: Tools and Cyberinfrastructure for Water Data Publication, Discovery, Research, and Collaboration
    Liza Brazil, Jared Bales, and Anthony Castronova
    CUAHSI, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Enabling research surrounding interdisciplinary topics often requires a combination of finding, managing, and analyzing large data sets and models from multiple sources. This challenge has led the National Science Foundation to make strategic investments in developing community data tools and cyberinfrastructure that focus on water data, as it is central need for many of these research topics.

    CUAHSI (The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.) is a nonprofit organization funded by the National Science Foundation to aid students, researchers, and educators in using and managing data and models to support research and education in the water sciences. This presentation will focus on two free and open-source CUAHSI-operated tools that enable: 1) enhanced data discovery online from multiple sources using advanced searching capabilities and 2) flexible publishing tools to easily share products resulting from research and/or data collection.

18 Markup Application for Hydrography Datasets, Tatyana Dimascio, USGS

  • Abstract

    Markup Application for Hydrography Datasets
    Tatyana Dimascio
    USGS, Lakewood, Colorado

    The US Geological Survey has created a new web application, called Markup App, as a user-friendly communication tool for the public and partners to submit suggested corrections to the national datasets. The first phase of the Markup application is focused on the refinements for the hydrography datasets: National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), a National Hydrography Dataset Plus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR), and the Watershed Boundaries Dataset (WBD). This presentation will introduce the new application and discuss its role in the workflow for editing national hydrography features.

19 Innovative Data Publishing to the Water Quality Portal (15-minute oral presentation), Dave Wilcox, Gold Systems

  • Abstract

    Innovative Data Publishing to the Water Quality Portal
    Kevin Christian1, Steve Gold2, and Tim Paris3
    1US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia; 2Gold Systems, Salt Lake City, Utah; 3Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, Maryland

    EPA’s Water Quality eXchange (WQX) team, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and EPA contractor Gold Systems have developed, tested, and utilized a new way to submit data to WQX. Until very recently the only two avenues to publish your data via WQX were to set up an automated node-to-node communication via EPA’s Exchange Network or to manually upload your data using the WQX Web user interface. The Chesapeake Bay Program recently began publishing their data using automated Application Program Interface (API) services through WQX web. The new WQX Web API services allow a data submitter to automate data submissions and offload a great deal of the data translation functions to WQX Web through import configurations. This project is innovative because maintenance of the metadata element mapping between the data providers’ dataset and WQX is more tangible in the WQX Web interface. With a node-to-node automation, previously the only automated option, data providers needed to have coding knowledge or contractor support to change metadata element mapping. WQX Web creates consistency and adaptability with new business rules, elements and xml schema validation. This solution also opens up many possibilities for mobile app development by allowing mobile apps to have simple data profiles that can be registered with WQX Web and using the API could submit the data with less technical hurdle.

20 Sharing NARS Data through WQX: Data Transformation, Migration, and a Vision for the Future, Shawn Henderson, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Sharing NARS Data Through WQX: Data Transformation, Migration, and a Vision for the Future
    Shawn Henderson1 and Karen A. Blocksom2
    1US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, Kansas City, Kansas; 2US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, NHEERL, Western Ecology Division, Corvallis, Oregon

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has long faced the challenge of collecting and disseminating large amounts of information collected over decades. USEPA’s National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) have collected enormous amounts of data on lakes, rivers and streams, wetlands, and coastal waters since they began in 2007. The data have been stored in survey-specific databases that are not directly accessible to the public. Instead, data have been published in flat files (e.g., comma-delimited format) and either provided directly to states and tribes or posted on the NARS web site ( To make the data more accessible to other entities in a standardized format, USEPA has been working to move much of the NARS data to the Water Quality Exchange (WQX), a website that allows data partners to submit water monitoring data to USEPA. The data submitted through WQX are then available to the public for retrieval through the Water Quality Portal. This transfer of data from NARS databases to WQX has largely consisted of mapping and data mining exercises to match NARS data to the WQX schema and its data elements, given the broad types of data collected through NARS. Areas of improvement have been identified for both NARS databases and existing NARS WQX data sets that need to be addressed to facilitate uploading data to WQX. The future vision is to standardize data formats across NARS databases, allowing more automated dissemination of data to WQX, the NARS web site, or data analysis programs.

21 Quality Management and Upload Platform for Field Measurements Data, Revital Katznelson, Volunteer

  • Abstract

    Quality Management and Upload Platform for Field Measurements Data
    Revital Katznelson
    UC Extension, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California

    Visual observations and field measurements of “vial signs” such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH and turbidity are extremely valuable in stream health assessments, as any data user will attest. The information value of such data is much higher if observations and measurements are done frequently, and citizen-science can greatly enhance the data density. Unfortunately, citizen monitors’ data rarely find their way to central databases, for two major reasons: lack of data quality documentation, and lack of resources to upload and share the data far and wide. The Data Quality Management (DQM) system developed by California’s Clean Water Team (The citizen-Monitoring Program of the State Water Resources Control Board) provides a simple Excel platform for the following functions: (1) data entry template with drop-down menus, formatted like the field data sheet for easy navigation; (2) recording of quality-check outcomes; (3) calculation of measurement error, and (4) data validation. The DQM system has recently been expanded to include DQM spreadsheets with crosswalks from the data entry template into the upload templates deployed by the California Environmental Data Exchange Network. This paper is focused on recent data quality management and upload platforms for field monitoring data, that small groups and tribes with no budget and no IT support can use to validate and share their data.

22 Assessing Water Sensor Data Quality: Initial Commissioning to Ongoing Uncertainty Evaluation Tools at NEON, Guy Litt, Battelle Ecology

  • Abstract

    Assessing Water Sensor Data Quality: Initial Commissioning to Ongoing Uncertainty Evaluation Tools at NEON
    Guy Litt and Jesse Vance
    Battelle/National Ecological Observatory Network, Boulder, Colorado

    Delivering high quality, long-term environmental sensor data spanning diverse ecosystems at the continental scale is a primary goal in the National Ecological Observatory Network’s (NEON) Aquatic Instrumented Systems (AIS) group. NEON AIS consists of in-situ sensors in freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes that continuously monitor physical and hydrological conditions, as well as a suite of water quality parameters. Initial data quality evaluations collected special independent grab samples to compare to sensor data as part of commissioning. Ongoing analyses also draw upon regularly collected grab samples that can be compared to a sensor’s reading. Data quality may then be analyzed by combining uncertainty between sensor and grab sample results. The expanded uncertainty is used to define the control limits on the data quality test, which exposes (i) unaccounted uncertainty in the sensor and grab sample data, and/or (ii) issues in the data or sample collection process. Results from these analyses help strategize continuous improvement in data quality protocols.

23 Chesapeake Bay Program: Improvements to the Chesapeake Environmental Data Repository and DataHub., Michael Mallonee, Chesapeake Bay Program

  • Abstract

    Chesapeake Bay Program: Improvements to the Chesapeake Environmental Data Repository and DataHub
    Michael Mallonee
    Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, Maryland

    The Chesapeake Center for Collaborative Computing (C4) is the Chesapeake Bay Program’s (CBP) integrated, accessible information management system for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It is an organized, distributed library of information and software tools designed to increase public access to watershed information. CBP introduced the Chesapeake Environmental Data Repository (CEDR) in the spring of 2015. CEDR is a data enterprise database that houses all the CBP water quality and living resources (tidal and nontidal benthic macroinvertebrates, tidal plankton) data holdings since 1984. CBP products produced from this data source include the annual Water Quality Attainment standard assessment; nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment watershed load and trend analyses; Chesapeake Bay Index of Benthic Integrity (BIBI) assessment for stream health; and the Phytoplankton Index of Biotic Integrity (PIBI).

    The DataHub (, CBP’s primary tool for accessing and downloading environmental data for the Bay watershed, has been re-designed to complement the introduction of CEDR. The new features include a streamlined user interface, access to larger data downloads, additional download formats, and an improved Application Programming Interface (API) for developers. Data sources (water quality, living resources, fluorescence, nutrient point source and toxics) can be accessed through a single download portal. CBP databases can be queried based upon user-defined inputs such as geographic region and date range. Data may also be downloaded according to CBP sponsored program and project. Each query results in a downloadable file (tab delimited, CSV, XML, or JSON) that can be imported into any program (e.g., SAS, Excel, Access) for further analysis. The DataHub is designed on a service-based architecture, utilizing APIs to facilitate the reuse of our data resources.

    CBP is involved in a partnership with the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative supporting integration of volunteer-based and non-traditional water quality and macroinvertebrate monitoring data into CEDR. Data contributions by this network of volunteer and non-traditional sources will provide additional quality censored datasets publicly available on the DataHub. This data, as well as our traditional partner datasets, have been made available for download at the NWQMC’s Water Quality Portal (WQP) through CBP automated data submissions to EPA’s Water Quality Exchange (WQX).

24 Framework for a National Hydrologic Analysis Website, Scott Prinos, USGS

  • Abstract

    Framework for a National Hydrologic Analysis Website
    Scott T. Prinos and Dianne López-Trujillo
    US Geological Survey, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    The US Geological Survey (USGS) uses a variety of websites to provide the public with information concerning water quality, levels, and flow of groundwater and surface water. These web-based tools include the: Groundwater Watch, WaterWatch, the National Water Information System: Mapper, and USGS Water-Quality Data for the Nation websites. A prototype website developed for sites in south Florida illustrates the feasibility of combining these websites into one to provide:

    • The mapping capabilities of the USGS National Water Information System: Mapper;
    • Analysis of real-time, continuously monitored, or manually measured water levels, water salinity, conductance, or specific conductance, and results of water samples;
    • Frequency analyses of hydrologic information by week. This approach mitigates some abrupt changes that can occur if monthly frequency analyses are used;
    • Analysis and graphical and map-based depiction of 5-, and 20-year trends in the monitoring data, which currently include water levels, and chloride concentrations, and could potentially include trends in flow or other constituents;
    • Additions of menus that allow selection of various statistics for display on the map interface, including; changes during the last week, changes during the last month, or the results of trend testing;
    • Selection of sites by aquifer or site type;
    • Color coding of monitoring site icons on the map interface, by constituent concentration or by the percentile rank of water-level or flow monitoring sites.

    This prototype website allows water-resource managers to rapidly assess hydrologic conditions and trends to make informed management decisions. Although the new prototype website was developed for south Florida, it could be expanded to provide this information nationally.

25 Moving to Electronic Submissions and Reporting for Water Quality Assessments, Jesse Boorman-Padgett, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Moving to Electronic Submissions and Reporting for Water Quality Assessments
    Wendy Reid and Dwane Young
    US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia

    States monitor and assess the quality of their surface waters, decide whether a water is good or impaired, and report those decisions to the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) under the Clean Water Act (CWA), Sections 303(d) and 305(b), or the Integrated Report. The US EPA reviews and approves those decisions. In the past, these submissions were received in various formats ranging from tables in hard copy reports to spreadsheets and databases with different data structures. These varying formats made it difficult to track the review and approval of the assessment decisions, consolidate the decision data into a national database, and publish the data. The previous process resulted in long delays before the water quality assessment decisions were finalized and made available to the public.

    The US EPA has implemented a new electronic submission and review process for these water quality assessment decisions. This change standardizes the electronic decision data, incorporates the data earlier in the review process, and allows the US EPA to make 303(d) list approval decisions based on that electronic data, rather than a table in a hard copy report. This electronic submission and review process allows the data to be published more efficiently in the national database once the final decisions are made, and the focus on the data throughout the process ensures greater accuracy in the published data.

    This session will discuss the shift to electronic reporting for surface water quality decisions, the database behind it, and ways to access the published data.

26 Automating Retrieval of Wastewater Discharge Monitoring Reports with R, Michael Schramm, Texas A&M, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

  • Abstract

    Automating Retrieval of Wastewater Discharge Monitoring Reports with R
    Michael Schramm
    Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides public access to Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) through EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) website. The website provides a point and click interface for users to download wastewater discharge data reported by permitted industrial and wastewater treatment facilities. The point and click nature of the website, while friendly to casual users, is not conducive to reproducible or automated data inquiries. We developed a new R package, “echor”, to facilitate downloading NPDES facility information and DMR data. The package relies on Representational State Transfer (REST) services provided by ECHO to query and download data. “echor” can drastically reduce the amount of time required to obtain DMRs, introduces reproducibility in data acquisition, and can be streamlined into other statistical and modeling workflows. The package is currently published to the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) repository and source code shared on Github. This presentation will highlight the basic requirements to utilize “echor” and provide examples depicting how the package can be useful for other users.

27 Geospatial Visualizations of Pesticides Found in Florida’s Ambient Fresh Waters and Variables Correlated With Their Occurrence., James (Jay) Silvanima, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Abstract

    Geospatial Visualizations of Pesticides Found in Florida’s Ambient Fresh Waters and Variables Correlated With Their Occurrence
    Stephanie Sunderman-Barnes, James Silvanima, and Andy Woeber
    Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, Florida

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) conducts statewide annual probabilistic surveys of Florida’s freshwater resources. Whole water grab samples from unconfined aquifer (2015), flowing water (2016) and lake (2017) sample surveys were analyzed for 48 pesticide compounds. Statewide and basin-wide summary statistics were generated for total concentration of all pesticides, all insecticides (20 compounds), and all herbicides (28 compounds) per site. Linked micromaps (R micromap package) are presented for geospatial visualization of the relationships, or lack thereof, between these values and estimated agricultural pesticide application rates, extent of agricultural and urban land use and human population density.

28 Working Down the User Pyramid With NHDPlus, Michelle Thawley, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Working Down the User Pyramid With NHDPlus
    Michelle Thawley
    US Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Water, Washington, District of Columbia

    The ever-growing NHDPlus user community has produced a rich collection of innovative applications over the past decade. Most of this work to date has been performed by GIS experts employing more advanced technologies. Envision a pyramid where this relatively small number of GIS experts are at the top and as you work down the pyramid the technologies and tools become simpler and more accessible to larger numbers of more infrequent or casual users. Said differently, the height of the pyramid represents the level of expertise and complexity of technologies, which decreases as you move from top to bottom, while the width of the pyramid represents the number of users, which increases as you work down the pyramid. This presentation will touch on several new noteworthy advanced NHDPlus applications and will also showcase a number of newer, simpler, more accessible NHDPlus-based data, tools and web services.

29 Connecting Data to the National Hydrography Dataset, Michael Tinker, USGS

  • Abstract

    Connecting Data to the National Hydrography Dataset
    Michael Tinker and Kevin McNinch
    US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) creates and maintains the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), which portrays the surface water of the nation. The NHD surface water network provides a framework for linking data sources such as, hydrologic observations, natural resource surveys and other water-related datasets.

    USGS is currently creating new methods by which hydrologic observations can be referenced to the NHD and shared as map services. For example, the USGS is creating a flexible data schema, called the Hydrography Referenced Data (HRD), that can be used for any kind of hydrologic observation. USGS is also designing a Hydrography Referencing Tool (HRT) which will be a browser-based tool that allows linear referencing and flexible indexing of any kind of hydrologic observation to the NHD.

    The HRT and HRD are both aligned with the vision of the National Hydrography Infrastructure and the Internet of Water. Supporters of these initiatives are collaborating on web tools and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for discovery and search of community-generated HRD through a future-designed web portal.

    This poster shows how the new HRD and HRT projects at the USGS fit within a collaborative community of data holders of data related to the NHD.

30 Los Angeles River Watershed Report Card: Utilizing Regulatory Monitoring Data to Assess and Visualize Watershed Health, Amanda Wagner, Heal the Bay

  • Abstract

    Los Angeles River Watershed Report Card: Utilizing Regulatory Monitoring Data to Assess and Visualize Watershed Health
    Amanda Wagner1 and Katherine Pease2
    1Heal the Bay and UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Los Angeles, California; 2Heal the Bay, Los Angeles, California

    Water quality in the Los Angeles River Watershed is a major concern due to its highly urbanized land use. Runoff, stormwater, and industrial land use all have negative impacts on the waters of the LA River Watershed. Through the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit, required by the Clean Water Act, cities must sample certain areas along the LA River and its tributaries and submit the results to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Cities test for a variety of parameters such as nutrients, metals, organics, and general water parameters like pH and temperature based on their Coordinated Integrated Monitoring Program. We analyzed MS4 data obtained from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017, focusing on receiving water sites. We used the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) model and percent exceedance to “grade” the health of the LA River Watershed. The LA River Watershed serves as valuable habitat for wildlife and includes areas where humans recreate so we analyzed the data and created grades for human health and ecological health. We used the CCME model for ecological health and percent exceedance for human health. For ecological health we assessed lead, copper, zinc, selenium, cadmium, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH, and dissolved oxygen. For human health we used E. coli as our indicator. Additionally, we analyzed the data and created grades separately based on weather as well. With this data we created user friendly maps to display our results. Our results showed that the human health grades were very poor throughout the entire watershed in both dry and wet weather monitoring, indicating high levels of bacterial pollution. The ecological health indicators were average during dry weather (mostly ranging from A to C), but substantially worse during wet weather (with a significant number of failing grades). The visualized data has been and can continue to be utilized to educate the general public and decision makers about water quality issues in the LA River Watershed.


Innovative Designs and Technology for Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment

31 Electronic Field Forms and Automated Data Entry – Improved Data Quality and Data Management Efficiency, Kristopher Barrios, New Mexico Government

  • Abstract

    Electronic Field Forms and Automated Data Entry – Improved Data Quality and Date Management Efficiency
    Kristopher Barrios
    New Mexico Environment Department, Santa Fe, New Mexico

    In 2017, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) initiated the use of electronic forms to automate data collection for its ambient surface water quality monitoring program. The forms are designed to streamline data collection and management in four areas: 1) preparation and planning of field activities, 2) data entry and onsite data validation, 3) generation of laboratory submittal forms, and 4) automated database entry. The forms were developed in-house in Microsoft Excel and are completed on rugged tablets in the field. The Excel workbooks contain ActiveX controls and VBA scripts for selection of monitoring locations, QA of data entry, and validation of the field sheet prior to publication. Once all field sheets from a sampling activity are published, another form is used to import field sheets and generate laboratory formatted submittal sheets containing sample IDs, sample date/time, and specific conductance values. The compiled information is then uploaded to SWQB’s water quality database. Implementation of electronic data collection has significantly reduced staff time spent on data entry, improved the timeliness of data entry following a sampling event, and greatly reduced transcription errors. This poster will briefly explain the development of the electronic forms and provide a flow chart with examples of the data collection and management process with indicators showing how the improvements prevent common and time-consuming mistakes. On-site photographs and screenshots will provide additional detail of real-world use.

32 Evaluating the Effect of Opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Oyster Production and Current Vs. Historical Spatial Relationships, Jarett Bell, University of Mississippi

  • Abstract

    Evaluating the Effect of Opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Oyster Production and Current vs. Historical Spatial Relationships
    Jarett Bell1 and Greg Easson2
    1University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi; 2Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, University Mississippi

    The Bonnet Carre Spillway was completed in 1931. It was constructed to protect New Orleans whenever the Mississippi River is at flood stage (Lane et al. 2001). The spillway drains into Lake Pontchartrain, a brackish-water lagoon north of New Orleans (Lane et al. 2001). Lake Pontchartrain then drains into Lake Borgne which subsequently drains into Mississippi Sound. The result of this inflow of water from the spillway is that it changes the water chemistry of all receiving water bodies and thus might have an effect on the Mississippi Gulf Coast oyster reefs. The Mississippi Gulf Coast oyster reefs make up an important coastal ecosystem and provide significant economic resources. However, in recent years the Mississippi Gulf Coast oyster reefs have been declining, with an approximate 15-fold decline over the past decade. As a result of this, the University of Mississippi was tasked by the Mississippi-based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence to identify the differences in abiotic and biotic stressors at current and historic oyster reef sites. The collection of data needed to assess the effect of the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway on historic and current oyster reefs was completed using ocean observing station which collected data on temperature and light, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen for the period of March 14 – March 30 and April 1 – April 25. Satellite imagery will also be used to quantify any temporal, spatial, and/or spectral relationship between the abiotic parameters and/or current and historic oyster reef locations.

33 Novel Approaches to Storm Water Monitoring From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to Receiving Waters in San Diego, California, Kate Buckley, Wood PLC

  • Abstract

    Novel Approaches to Storm Water Monitoring From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to Receiving Waters in San Diego, California
    Kate Buckley1, Chris Stranksy1, Rolf Schottle1, Kimberly O’Connell2, Molly Colvin3, Gunther Rosen3, and Jeff VanVoorhis1
    1Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions; San Diego, California; 2University of California San Diego, San Diego, California; 3SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific; San Diego California

    The variable nature of stormwater runoff presents unique challenges with regard to accurately characterizing impacts to receiving waters. The University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) is situated above an Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) and adjacent to popular swimming beaches, including La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. Seawater from the research facilities and a public aquarium, as well as stormwater during wet weather, enters the ocean off SIO requiring an NPDES permit to monitor discharges from the facility during both dry and wet weather.

    During wet weather monitoring, toxicity has been observed in some species when exposed to undiluted storm water runoff collected at the end of pipe. However, long-term monitoring at this site has demonstrated limited to no toxicity observed in receiving water samples in the lab or in situ during wet weather. To better understand impacts in the adjacent receiving waters, SPAWAR and Wood developed a pulsed study method to more realistically assess toxicological impacts related to storm water runoff. This novel method consists of a series of bioassays that alter the duration and concentration of storm water exposed to the test organisms. Routine permit compliance monitoring at SIO includes embryo development tests using the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in samples from outfalls and the receiving water. Whereas conventional laboratory tests expose the embryos to storm water continuously for a 72 to 96-hour period, a pulsed study performed during wet weather in 2018 included 6 and 26-hour exposure durations to undiluted stormwater after which embryos were transferred to clean filtered seawater. These time frames were chosen based on the 50th and 95th percentiles for storm events in San Diego. Results from the study indicated that duration of exposure did affect the outcome, with shorter exposures to storm water demonstrating less of an effect. Because shorter exposure times represent a more realistic duration of exposure to storm the water in Southern California, this may provide guidance on prioritization of BMPs and has also shed light on the need to consider alternative approaches for assessment of episodic discharges such as storm water runoff.

34 Development of an Effective Shade Model for Water Quality Management in Oregon, Erin Costello, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

  • Abstract

    Development of an Effective Shade Model for Water Quality Management in Oregon
    Erin Costello1, Eugene Foster1, Ryan Michie1, Daniel Sobota1, and Yangdong Pan2
    1Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Portland, Oregon; 2Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

    Warming stream temperatures degrade water quality by stressing cold-water species, promoting harmful algal blooms, lowering dissolved oxygen, and increasing the toxicity of some compounds. The influence of stream temperature on the survival of native salmon is of particular concern in the Pacific Northwest. Effective shade, the fraction of solar radiation blocked from reaching a stream, is directly related to in-stream temperature and can be readily manipulated by riparian management actions. Current techniques for measuring effective shade are too resource intensive for regular assessment over time to assess large-scale trends. The objective of this research was to develop a model (Simple Shade) for evaluating effective shade across the state of Oregon over time on a consistent and cost-effective basis. Model inputs included Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values derived from high-resolution aerial imagery, watershed area, topographic shading, and channel characteristics derived from digital elevation models (DEMs) and a training dataset of effective shade output from a stream thermodynamics model (Heat Source) for the Middle Fork Coquille River, Oregon, based on data collected in summer 2009. Principal components analysis and random forest models were used to analyze variable importance and predict effective shade. The Simple Shade model explained 44% of variation in effective shade and had a mean of squared residuals of 0.028. The most important predictor variables were watershed area, mean NDVI and topographic shade angle to the South. The presence of shadows in the aerial imagery and watershed specific characteristics, like the convergence of multiple tributaries resulting in rapid channel widening, influenced model performance. This research suggested that NDVI could be a surrogate measure of effective shade. However, additional refinement of how watershed specific characteristics are taken into account is needed before this model can be applied to other regions in Oregon.

35 Metals Concentrations in Pore Water Collected Using a Novel Boat-Operated Pore Water Sampling Device in a Swift, Deep Non-Wadable River to Assess Copper Toxicity to Epibenthic Organisms, Stephen Cox, USGS

  • Abstract

    Metals Concentrations in Pore Water Collected Using a Novel Boat-Operated Pore Water Sampling Device in a Swift, Deep Non-Wadable River to Assess Copper Toxicity to Epibenthic Organisms
    Stephen Cox1, Andrew Spanjer1, William Brumbaugh2, and Laurie Balistrieri2
    1US Geological Survey WAWSC, Tacoma, Washington; 2US Geological Survey CERC, Columbia, Missouri

    The population of native white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) that resides in the upper Columbia River, Washington consists largely of aging adult fish that are not being replaced by non-hatchery reared juvenile fish. Metallurgical smelter slag containing copper and other trace metals is widely intermixed with natural river sediment in the habitat area utilized by early-life stage sturgeon fry that hide within the rocky substrate at the sediment-water interface. Sturgeon fry prefer the deep, swift waters of the river’s thalweg where hydrologic conditions are unsuitable for traditional pore water sampling techniques. A pore-water profile sampler was developed for deployment in deep, swift water to collect water samples (approximately 55 ml each) at depths of +7.5 cm, 0 cm, -4.5 cm, and -14.5 cm relative to the sediment-water interface. The profile sampler is constructed of a modified USGS sounding weight equipped with polypropylene suction syringes with Teflon tubing and inlet nozzles set at specified depths below the Teflon base of the sampler. The sampler is actuated through a pressure trigger in the sampler’s base. The sampler is deployed using standard E-reel suspension and can be equipped with video monitoring to evaluate sampler positioning and sample integrity. The profile sampler has been successfully used in the Columbia River at water depths over 10 meters with surface velocities exceeding 3 meters per second. The sampler worked well on sand-gravel substrate but was less reliable in cobble-boulder substrates.

    Pore-water profile samples collected at 27 sites in the upper Columbia River were analyzed for trace elements, major ions, pH and dissolved organic carbon. Concentration gradients of copper and several other trace elements were observed at about 30-50% of sampling sites suggesting spatially variable upward flux of metals from sediment to surface water. Results from a biotic ligand model toxicity assessment using these data indicate copper toxicity at several of the sample sites. This field sampling technique provided in-situ water chemistry data across the sediment-water interface that provide a more realistic evaluation of dissolved metal exposure to epibenthic organisms than either water column sampling or centrifuged pore water from conventional sediment sampling.

36 Data Loggers: Continuous Conductivity Quality Control, Leah Ettema, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Data Loggers: Continuous Conductivity Quality Control
    Leah Ettema1, Kelly Krock1, Lou Reynolds1, Jennifer Fulton1, Greg Pond1, Frank Borsuk1, Amy Bergdale1, Margaret Passmore2, and David Light1
    1USEPA Region 3, Wheeling, West Virginia; 2USEPA Region 3 (retired), Wheeling, West Virginia

    Multi-parameter data sondes are commonly used to record continuous data, and these sondes can be calibrated during field visits. However, they can be costly to deploy, especially when lost to theft or high streams flow. So, we examined the accuracy of less expensive conductance and temperature data loggers, which can only be factory calibrated, by comparing the data logger values to same-day calibrated multi-parameter sonde values.

    We deployed loggers at 40 sites, recording hourly data for around 5 years, and rated data accuracy according to USGS standards (after accounting for difference in specific conductivity calculation methods). 71.6 % of all field visits (n=380) resulted in an “Excellent” or “Good” data accuracy rating. The time between field visits ranged from 1 day to 463 days, with a goal of every 90 days. Sediment (n=34) and low flows (n=11) affected some accuracy ratings, but there was no meaningful correlation (Kendall’s tau <0.1) between the logger housing being full or partially full of sediment and logger accuracy. During 11.1% of the field visits, the logger value was not able to be compared to the sonde because the logger battery had died, the logger was missing (n=5), the logger was out of water, or the multiprobe sonde malfunctioned. After a logger battery dies, data recorded on it can usually be recovered (for a fee). After data recovery, dead batteries (or missing loggers), accounted for a minimum of 0 days, median of 115.4 days, and maximum of 630 days of missing data (out of approximately 1,825 days) at each site. While not affecting data accuracy ratings, during data processing, we encountered a few 2-hour, random, errant drops in battery voltage concurrently with spikes in conductivity due to poor port connections during data downloads. Our results demonstrate that with appropriate data processing and quality control, data loggers can be a cost-effective means of collecting high quality stream data.

    Disclaimer(s): This is not an endorsement for any equipment or company. The views expressed in this poster are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Agency.

37 Continuous Water Quality Monitoring in Lake Mead, Nevada, Todd Tietjen, Southern Nevada Water Authority

  • Abstract

    Continuous Water Quality Monitoring in Lake Mead, Nevada
    Deena Giffen, Roslyn Flanagan, and Todd Tietjen
    Southern Nevada Water Authority, Las Vegas, Nevada

    Lake Mead is a large and dynamic reservoir which receives 97% of its inflow from the Colorado River, with contributions from the Virgin and Muddy Rivers as well as the Las Vegas Wash. Boulder Basin is the basin closest to the Las Vegas Valley and includes the confluence with the Las Vegas Wash, which is comprised of approximately 90% treated wastewater effluent. The drinking water intake for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which supplies nearly 2 million customers, is also located in Boulder Basin. Prolonged drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin have led to an increased need for water quality monitoring in real-time to predict and plan for future scenarios. As part of the planning process, YSI sampling platforms equipped with EXO sondes were installed in Boulder Basin in July 2018 to continuously monitor water quality parameters at different depths and locations in the basin, including the drinking water intake. A Fondriest buoy was also installed at the confluence of the Las Vegas Wash and Boulder Basin. The buoy includes both an EXO sonde and a Turner C6 and takes surface readings of the same parameter set as the platforms, with the additional parameters that are of interest in the treated wastewater effluent. This talk will discuss deployment and operation of the sampling equipment and present preliminary data. Further, this talk will focus on future plans for data access and utilization.

38 Legrangian Water Quality Data Collection Along the Upper Colorado River During Low Flow Conditions of 2018, Michael Gooseff, University of Colorado

  • Abstract

    Lagrangian Water Quality Data Collection Along the Upper Colorado River During Low Flow Conditions of 2018
    Michael Gooseff1, Matthew Cohen2, Robert Hensley2, Margaret Spangler1, and Lauren DeVito2
    1University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado; 2University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

    Most water quality studies to date are conducted in an Eulerian fashion in which sensors are deployed or sampling is conducted at fixed sites, or in a synoptic fashion, in which many measurements are made or samples collected over a short period of time to create spatial snapshots of a stream/river reach or network. However, there has been significant interest in approaching water quality studies from a Lagrangian perspective, in which the evolution of a parcel of water as it moves downstream is quantified. While there remain some limitations to the number and frequency of parcel tracking that can be completed, the intellectual advance and goal of simulating water quality evolution down networks is a compelling goal that would overcome limitations of current conceptual and numerical models. We conducted a Lagrangian data collection campaign on 215 miles of the upper Colorado River in July 2018 with fixed water quality data collection at 5 locations along this segment. We measured pH, electrical conductivity, fluorescent dissolved organic matter, turbidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, dissolved nitrate, and dissolved CO2. We demonstrate that while broad spatial patterns from the Lagrangian data set corroborate the Eulerian data sets (increasing water temperature, dissolved nitrate, turbidity, and electrical conductivity), it also allows us to identify specific locations of biogeochemical changes to the river due to either tributary or diffuse inflows associated with local land management practices. Further, we are able to estimate rates of metabolism and nutrient retention along the river network as well. As a scientific community, we are indeed pushing the boundaries of new conceptual models of biogeochemical cycling in river networks with these new approaches.

39 In situ Time Integrative Field Filtration Enhancing E-DNA Water Monitoring, Brent Hepner, Aqualytical

  • Abstract

    In situ Time Integrative Field Filtration Enhancing E-DNA Water Monitoring
    Brent Hepner
    Aqualytical LLC, Center for Environmental Research, St. Augustine, Florida

    An exciting new technology of environmental DNA (e-DNA) monitoring is fast becoming the technique of choice to establish and monitor aquatic populations. However, advanced this novel tool is, it still is handicapped by using conventional grab sampling representing only a snap shot in time of a dynamic changing environment. A new field filtration sampling method, which allows a time integrative, large volume, in situ extractive event is needed. This method will provide a new dimension in the way e-DNA is collected in the ever-changing biodiversity of our marine and fresh waters.

    A small submersible time-integrative filtration collection device has been developed to provide unique time integrative filtered residues of fresh and marine waters, while being submerged, floated or towed in the aquatic environment itself. The device actively draws water in a submersed state through a unique encapsulated filtration disk that functions as a filter holder, and a self-contained capsule that can be chemically stabilized, sealed and shipped vastly improving holding time issues. The special e-DNA disks are designed to filter water through a variety of filtration and sequestering media either singly or staged together to provide a total and dissolved e-DNA residue. Its small footprint allows transport to remote areas sequestering e-DNA from large volumes of water up to 100 liters. The device actively filters for 36 hours with just one battery charge. The enclosed filtration disk is sealed from physical contact and contamination and is all that is sent to the laboratory for e-DNA analysis, as the water is left behind. The small device uses low flow rate extraction/filtration (5–80 ml/minute), where water is drawn continuously through the extraction filter media disk. It provides a filtration/extraction event that can last for a day and a half, allowing capture of e-DNA or trace pollutants from migratory, evasive, illicit, and episodic events.

40 Using Continuous Data as Surrogates to Estimate Nutrient and Ion Loads, Dawn Hintz, Susquehanna River Basin Commission

  • Abstract

    Using Continuous Data as Surrogates to Estimate Nutrient and Ion Loads
    Dawn Hintz
    Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    The Susquehanna River Basin Commission collects both continuous and discrete water chemistry samples throughout the 27,500 mi2 basin. Collecting sufficient nitrate, phosphorus, and chloride samples to accurately quantify loads of each parameter in surface waters is time-consuming and can become expensive with staff time and laboratory costs. It is also challenging to not only predict when concentrations will peak, but also to collect a sample at those times. Using continuously collected water quality parameters as surrogates for specific ions is a developing area of water quality monitoring. In order to determine if specific conductance (conductance) and turbidity values could be used as surrogates for nutrient and chloride concentrations, three different datasets were examined. Continuous and discrete datasets were analyzed at 60 stream sites spanning from 2004 to 2015. If relationships between chloride and conductance, nitrate and conductance, phosphorus and conductance, or phosphorus and turbidity can be determined, this could assist in determining total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for nutrient- and chloride-impaired streams.

    Preliminary results have generally shown strong relationships between conductance and chloride. Nitrate and phosphorus did not correlate well with conductance at the majority of sites; however, at sites with considerably elevated concentrations of nutrients, correlations do begin to emerge. Additional datasets are being analyzed to see if there are threshold levels that phosphorus and nitrate have to exceed before a correlation with stream conductance is evident.

41 Tools for Implementing an Adaptive Management Approach to Nutrients, Lynette Guevara, New Mexico Government

  • Abstract

    Tools for Implementing an Adaptive Management Approach to Nutrients
    Shelly Lemon
    New Mexico Environment Department Surface Water Quality Bureau, Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), states, territories, and authorized tribes have responsibility for developing and adopting water quality standards (WQS) for waters of the United States. The CWA also establishes the framework for programs that implement these WQS. Implementation programs include water quality monitoring, assessment and reporting; determination of attainment or non-attainment of the standards and identification of impaired waters; development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs); nonpoint source management programs; and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) point source discharge permitting, compliance and enforcement.

    Many states, territories, and authorized tribes are considering how to address nutrients in their WQS, however states must simultaneously consider how those criteria will be used in implementation programs. Nutrients present unique challenges because procedures to implement WQS, particularly when it comes to point source control through NPDES permits, generally were designed to address toxic pollutants. In addition, water quality criteria for nutrients that are protective of aquatic life are at low levels that might not be currently technologically achievable or could be difficult and potentially costly to attain.

    This presentation examines nutrient-related WQS implementation and presents tools for applying adaptive management approaches where the WQS is currently not attained. To illustrate these concepts, the presentation focuses on the iterative approach that the New Mexico Environment Department has taken over the past decades to implement New Mexico’s narrative nutrient criterion in a semi-arid, water-deficient environment. Specific issues considered include a discussion of appropriate translators and assessment protocols as well as various tools for implementing the narrative criterion that will allow for adaptive management and progress in reducing nutrient pollution. The discussion of implementation approaches and tools will cover the use of TMDLs, temporary standards, site-specific criteria, and NPDES permitting.

42 Specific Conductance: Accurate Temperature Compensation for Acid Waters, R. Blaine McCleskey, USGS

  • Abstract

    Specific Conductance: Accurate Temperature Compensation for Acid Waters
    Blaine McCleskey
    US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado

    Specific conductance (κ) measurements of natural waters are typically referenced to 25°C (κ25) using standard temperature compensation factors (α). For acidic waters (pH < 4), this can result in large κ25 errors (termed δκ25). The greater the sample temperature is from 25 °C and the lower the pH, the larger the δκ25. For pH < 4, the hydrogen ion transport number is substantial, and its mode of transport is different than most other ions resulting in a different α. Hydrogen ions migrate by what has been termed a “jump” of a proton from one water molecule to the next as H3O+, whereas most other ions move through the solution as individual entities as hydration spheres. Therefore, not only is the hydrogen ion temperature compensation factor lower, but its ionic conductivity is approximately 5 times greater than that of most other ions. Commonly used temperature factors do not account for the unique mobility of the hydrogen ion. A new approach to determining α as a function of pH and temperature is presented. Samples with varying amounts of H2SO4 and NaCl were used to develop the new α, which was then applied to 65 natural water samples including acid mine waters, geothermal waters, sea water, and stream waters. For each sample, the κ and pH were measured at several temperatures from 5 to 90°C and κ25 was calculated. The δκ25 ranged from -11 to +9% for the new approach as compared to -42 to +25% and -53 to +27% for the constant α (0.019) and ISO-7888 α methods, respectively. To demonstrate the error that can be introduced using the ISO 7888 method, the field–measured κ25 was 8300 µS/cm at 74 °C and the laboratory–measured κ25 was 14,700 µS/cm at 25 °C (δκ25 = -44%) for a sample from an acid-sulfate hot spring (pH 1.45). Using the new approach, the field measured κ25 was 14,300 µS/cm resulting in a significantly smaller δκ25 (δκ25 = -2.7%). The new approach is a substantial improvement for specific conductance measurements of acidic waters and performs as well as the standard methods for circumneutral waters.

43 From Algal Toxins to Environmental DNA: Use of Passive Samplers to Streamline Monitoring, Ellen Preece, Washington State University

  • Abstract

    From Algal Toxins to Environmental DNA: Use of Passive Samplers to Streamline Monitoring
    Ellen Preece1, Michael Bryan1, Samantha Mapes2, and Cara Wademan2
    1Robertson Bryan Inc., Elk Grove, California; 2University of California Davis, Davis, California

    Climate changes are expected to affect water-quality, ecosystem health, and species viability within waterbodies worldwide. As these changes occur, it will be necessary to streamline data collection protocols so that sampling tools can simultaneously monitor for water quality and determine presence of invasive and/or rare species. One tool that shows promise for streamlining data collection are Solid Phase Adsorption Tracking (SPATT) samplers. SPATTs were developed as an economical tool to passively monitor algal toxins that may be missed by discrete grab sampling. We found SPATTs can also be successfully used to monitor for Environmental DNA (eDNA). The eDNA method is an efficient, non-invasive, and relatively rapid process that can determine species presence and organism occupancy. Typically, eDNA monitoring involves collecting a discrete surface grab sample. However, traditional sampling methods may limit the spatial and temporal scale of eDNA monitoring. In a pilot study, we used SPATT and discrete grab samples at surface and subsurface locations to determine if imperiled freshwater mussels were present in the deep channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). We deployed six SPATTs at two Delta locations (n = 12). Anodonta californiensis were detected in all SPATT and grab samples (n = 22) at location 1. SPATT samplers that were deployed for a longer period (8 hr) had higher concentrations of eDNA compared to those deployed for shorter periods of time (2 hr and 4 hr). No mussel eDNA was detected in any SPATT samples at location 2, but A. californiensis was detected in 2 of 8 grab samples. This is the first time we are aware that SPATT samplers have been used to monitor for eDNA. Although we successfully used SPATTs, additional eDNA investigations and method modification may further improve upon our results. We believe SPATTs can be used to cost effectively detect cryptic or invasive species, while simultaneously monitoring for algal toxins in a variety of waterbodies.

44 Measurement of Nutrients and Trace Elements in Saline and Hypersaline Matrices, Sarah Stetson, USGS

  • Abstract

    Measurement of Nutrients and Trace Elements in Saline and Hypersaline Matrices
    Sarah J Stetson, Nicole Guaglione, and Zachary Chestnut
    National Water Quality Laboratory, US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado

    Measurement of nutrients and trace metals in saline and hypersaline matrices such as estuarine water, seawater, saline lakes, and brackish groundwater present a challenge in the field of analytical chemistry due to matrix effects. Salinization of surface water, degrading water quality in estuarine and hypersaline environments, and interest in brackish groundwater as a resource have caused an increase in demand for methods in these matrices. Such analytical methods must be accurate and precise while yielding low detection limits and fast, cheap analysis. Recoveries of dissolved nutrients (soluble reactive phosphorus, nitrite, nitrate plus nitrite, ammonia, and silica) spiked in waters with salinities from 0–22 percent will be presented. Since common colorimetric analysis methods on a discrete analyzer platform were used to collect the data, no matrix matching of calibrators to samples was required. This simplifies the analysis of samples with a wide range of salinities, such as estuarine and hypersaline samples where strong salinity gradients exist as a function of depth or distance from freshwater inputs.

    In trace metals analysis, ground and surface water samples often require dilution prior to analysis by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) when using a sample introduction system optimized for freshwater analysis. This results in significantly elevated reporting levels for trace elements. Improvements in detection limits and interference removal achievable through the use of a high matrix introduction system on a triple quadrupole ICP-MS in MS and MS/MS mode (element dependent) in place of sample dilution will be explored.


Holistic Water Quality Monitoring: Exploring Chemical, Physical, and Biological Integrity

45 Use of Occurrence and Exposure-Activity Ratios (EARs) to Identify Which Bioactive Chemicals in the Illinois Waterway Might Explain the Stalling of the Invasive Carp Population Front, William Battaglin, USGS

  • Abstract

    Use of Occurrence and Exposure-Activity Ratios (EARs) to Identify Which Bioactive Chemicals in the Illinois Waterway Might Explain the Stalling of the Invasive Carp Population Front
    William Battaglin1, James Duncker2, Cory Suski3, Paul Terrio2, Steven Corsi4, and Laura DeCicco5
    1US Geological Survey, Colorado Water Science Center, Lakewood, Colorado; 2US Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center, Urbana, Illinois; 3University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois; 4US Geological Survey Upper Midwest Science Center, Middleton, Wisconsin; 5US Geological Survey Integrated Information Dissemination Division, Middleton, Wisconsin

    Two nonnative bigheaded carp species have invaded the Illinois River system and are a threat to invade the Great Lakes ecosystem. The invasive carp population front has been stalled near Illinois Waterway (IWW) river mile 278 since 2006 perhaps because of poor water quality in the upper IWW (above river mile 278). Carp at the leading edge of the population front show evidence of increased energy use, increased detoxification, and decreased DNA repair in their livers. In 2015, the US Geological Survey collected 4 sets of water samples under a range of seasonal and hydrologic conditions from 3 locations upstream and 4 locations downstream from river mile 278 using a Lagrangian-style sampling strategy. Water samples were analyzed for 648 parameters of which 286 were detected at least once, including many bioactive chemicals (BCs) such as 96 pesticides, 62 pharmaceuticals, 39 wastewater indicator compounds, 29 metals, 19 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 6 disinfection by-products (DBPs), 5 hormones, and 5 carboxylic acids. Detection frequencies and concentrations of pharmaceuticals, wastewater indicator compounds, VOCs, and DBPs tended to decrease in a downstream direction whereas detection frequencies and concentrations of pesticides tended to increase. Potential for bioactivity was estimated by comparing BC concentrations to in vitro, high-throughput bioactivity screening results provided in the US Environmental Protection Agency ToxCast database. The resulting exposure-activity ratios (EARs) are a type of toxicity index, which can be utilized to rank the potential bioactivity of individual BCs and BC mixtures. This analysis indicates that hormones such as estrone; wastewater indicators such as triphenyl phosphate, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, and bisphenol A; and pharmaceuticals such as metformin all occur in the upper IWW at concentrations that produce elevated EARs values and may be adversely affecting carp health.

46 Time of Travel as a New Criterion for Groundwater Sampling: Demonstrations of the Purge Analyzer Tool (PAT), Philip Harte, USGS

  • Abstract

    Time of Travel as a New Criterion for Groundwater Sampling: Demonstrations of the Purge Analyzer Tool (PAT)
    Philip T. Harte1, Herb Levine2, Tomas Perina3, and Daewon Rojas-Mickleson2
    1US Geological Survey, New England Water Science Center, Pembroke, New Hampshire; 2US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, San Francisco, California; 3APTIM, Irvine, California

    Active pumping of monitoring wells prior to sampling requires purging to evacuate the water column and collect recent formation water. A general guideline, and an often-cited industry criterion is the evacuation of three-well-water volumes (often called volumetric sampling). Coincident with volumetric evacuation is the additional criterion that common measured field water-quality parameters exhibit stability. Stabilization of field water-quality parameters is also a criterion for low-flow sampling. However, what is not considered in either volumetric or low-flow groundwater sampling is the time of travel for water to flow from various open intervals of the well to the pump intake. This process is governed by well construction, well hydraulics, bulk hydraulic properties, pumping rate and intake position, and the degree of formation heterogeneity.

    A simple Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) analytical model has been developed, called the Purge Analyzer Tool (PAT), that computes in-well time of travel. The PAT provides insight into optimal purging parameters (time, rate, and pump position) needed for the collection of representative groundwater samples. The PAT can be used to predict (forward mode) purge times required for simple piston transport from open intervals of the well to the pump intake. The PAT can also be used to analyze existing monitoring purge records (reverse mode) on well purging and chemical stability to assess the role of well hydraulics on chemical stability. The utility of PAT as a diagnostic tool increases with lower pumping rates, longer monitoring-well screens, increasing levels of formation heterogeneity, and the ambient stratification of chemistry.

    Simulations of purge records show that the stability of field parameters can be tied to the rate of vertical in-well transport. This indicates that in-well vertical transport is a dominant process to consider when pumping wells for sampling. Calculations indicate that lateral transport or extent of interrogation into the formation from pumping are relatively small for many wells. Because of these small lateral transport dimensions, it’s likely that vertical variability in water chemistry exceeds horizontal variability. Further, the position of the pump intake relative to the more permeable layers is particularly important for capture times and rate of vertical in-well transport.

47 Multi-Stressor and Multi-State Approach to Creating Tolerance Values for Biological Condition Gradient Models, Jason Hill, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

  • Abstract

    Multi-Stressor and Multi-State Approach to Creating Tolerance Values for Biological Condition Gradient Models
    Jason R. Hill1, Emma V. Jones1, Lawrence D. Willis1, Louis Reynolds2
    1Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Roanoke, Virginia; 2US Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, Wheeling, West Virginia

    The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) in collaboration with Fairfax County, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spearheaded an effort to establish a regional multi-stressor database in an effort to calibrate tolerance values. This effort included two Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) projects: Ecoregion 69 (Central Appalachians) and Ecoregion 64 (Northern Piedmont). VADEQ found that generalized taxa tolerance values are different between ecoregions in Virginia. The disparity between ecoregions is due to different primary stressors within each ecoregion; therefore, stressor specific tolerance values have been developed for Virginia. Integral to the development of these stressor specific tolerance values was a database of over 3,000 paired biology and stressor parameter samples which were analyzed using R.

48 Sensitive Inorganic Monitoring Indicators for Tracing Groundwater Contamination from Shale Gas Development, Tianming Huang, Institute of Geology and Geophysics (IGG)

  • Abstract

    Sensitive Inorganic Monitoring Indicators for Tracing Groundwater Contamination From Shale Gas Development
    Tianming Huang, Zhonghe Pang, Zhenbin Li, and Yinlei Hao
    Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

    Potential environmental impacts on shallow groundwater from shale gas development facilitated by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is a widely debated “hot topic”. In terms of possible aqueous phase contamination, there is a large gap in knowledge of the indicators for routine monitoring and contamination tracing, which should be considered critical and should be prioritized for analysis. Since shale formation water is the main source of flowback fluids and produced water, and there are important differences in some specific inorganic geochemical and isotopic compositions between shallow groundwater and formation water, sensitive monitoring and diagnostic indicators for tracing or identifying potential groundwater contamination (caused by flowback fluids and produced water leakage) have been determined in this study by contrastive analysis. The results from the Fuling Gas Field (FGF), Sichuan Basin, SW China, as the first and largest commercial shale gas development site in China, shows that inorganic geochemical and isotopic indicators, such as Cl, Br, Na, Li, Ba, I, Fe, Mn, 87Sr/86Sr (as εSrsw), δ11B, electrical conductivity (EC) and total dissolved solids (TDS), are sensitive to the detection of contamination of fresh shallow groundwater by produced formation water, even in very small fractions (0.1%). Meanwhile, we presented a groundwater contamination case related to shale gas development in the FGF. The robust inert geochemical (Cl and Br) and isotopic (δ11B and εSrsw) mass balances show that less than 1% of produced formation water entered the shallow groundwater causing contamination. The case has also checked the effectiveness of those indicators. Findings from this study may help to improve groundwater monitoring and environmental regulation in countries with shale gas exploration and development.

49 Research on Coal-Tar Based Sealcoat Exemplifies the One Health Concept, Barbara Mahler, USGS

  • Abstract

    Research on Coal-Tar-Based Sealcoat Exemplifies the One Health Concept
    Barbara J. Mahler1, Peter C. Van Metre1, Spencer Williams2, Christopher Ingersoll3, James Kunz4, Edward Little5, William Foreman6, Aude Kienzler7, Alain Devaux8, and Sylvie Bony8
    1US Geological Survey, Austin, Texas; 2Baylor University, Waco, Texas; 3University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming; 4US Geological Survey, Columbia, Missouri; 5Retired US Geological Survey, Columbia, Missouri; 6US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado; 7European Commission, Brussels, Belgium; 8University of Lyon, Lyon, France

    Coal-tar-based (CT) sealcoat is marketed as protecting and beautifying the asphalt pavement of driveways and parking lots, and is commonly applied to pavement in the central, southern, and northeastern U.S. and in Canada. Use of CT sealcoat has implications for human and aquatic-ecosystem health. CT sealcoat typically is 20 to 35% crude coal tar or coal-tar pitch and contains from 50,000 to 100,000 mg/kg PAHs, about 1,000 times more than asphalt-based (AS) sealcoat. Tires and snowplows abrade dried sealcoat into fine particles—PAH concentrations in dust on CT-sealcoated pavement are about 1,000 times higher than in dust from AS-sealcoated pavement (median total PAH concentrations 2,200 and 2.1 mg/kg, respectively). Samples of PAHs in house dust in residences adjacent to CT-sealcoated pavement (CT-affected) yielded a median PAH concentration 25 times higher than that for dust in residences adjacent to unsealed or AS-sealcoated pavement. Preschoolers in CT-affected residences are estimated to consume more PAHs from incidental ingestion of house dust than from diet, and the estimated lifetime cancer risk from non-dietary ingestion of PAHs for those living in CT-affected residences is significantly than for those in non-CT-affected residences. Use of CT sealcoat also has numerous implications for aquatic ecosystems. Source apportionment modeling indicates that, where CT sealcoat is used, particles from sealcoated pavement contribute the majority of PAHs in recently deposited lake sediment, with potential adverse effects to benthic biota. Acute toxicity of simulated rain runoff from CT-sealcoated pavement to stream biota, demonstrated for a cladoceran (Ceriodaphnia dubia) and for a fish (fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas), continued for runoff samples collected as long as weeks or months following sealcoat application. Using the fish-liver cell line RTL-W1, runoff collected as much as 36 days following CT-sealcoat application was demonstrated to cause DNA damage and impair DNA repair capacity. Recent research has provided direct evidence that restricting use of CT sealcoat in a watershed can lead to a substantial reduction in PAH concentrations in receiving water bodies. Research on CT sealcoat illustrates the importance of the “One Health” concept and the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in investigating the intersection between human and aquatic-ecosystem health.

50 Analyzing Multivariable Water Chemistry to Assess Water Quality of Reference Sites in Texas in Compliance with the National Rivers and Streams Assessment, Gabriel Nejad, Tarleton State University

  • Abstract

    Analyzing Multivariable Water Chemistry to Assess Water Quality of Reference Sites in Texas in Compliance with the National Rivers and Streams Assessment
    Gabriel Wechter Nejad
    Tarleton State University, TIAER, Department of Chemistry Geosciences and Physics, Stephenville, Texas

    Of the many streams and rivers in Texas, only a few have been previously included in the National Rivers and Streams Assessment, a national water quality survey that recurs every five years. The purpose of this research is to sample a subset of potential reference sites identified by NRSA but never sampled. The study will collect water chemistry data using field and laboratory methods in compliance with NRSA protocols. Each site will be sampled in spring, summer, and fall in order to compare seasonal differences in water quality. Statistical analyses will employ temporal and spatial comparisons of water quality among different streams by season, ecoregion, and watershed land use. Doing so will bridge data gaps in the national assessment to include rural Texas ecoregions, helping to determine the extent to which rivers and streams support healthy biological conditions and to identify their major stressors to inform management.

51 Evaluating Potential Acute and Chronic Effects of Pesticide Mixtures in Streams from Five Regional Studies Across the United States (USA), Lisa Nowell, USGS

  • Abstract

    Evaluating Potential Acute and Chronic Effects of Pesticide Mixtures in Streams from Five Regional Studies Across the United States (USA)
    Lisa H. Nowell1, Julia E. Norman2, Barbara J. Mahler3, Mark W. Sandstrom4, Peter C. Van Metre3, Patrick W. Moran5, Travis S. Schmidt6
    1US Geological Survey, Sacramento, California; 2US Geological Survey, Portland, Oregon; 3US Geological Survey, Austin, Texas; 4US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado; 5US Geological Survey, Tacoma, Washington; 6US Geological Survey, Fort Collins, Colorado

    The distribution and potential aquatic toxicity of pesticide mixtures in streams were assessed as part of regional-scale multistressor studies conducted by the US Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project in five US regions—the Midwest, Southeast Piedmont, Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Central California Coast. Dissolved concentrations of 225 pesticides and degradates were measured in weekly water samples from 75–100 streams within each region. Water samples were collected over a 6- to 14-week index period prior to conducting ecological surveys of algae, invertebrates and fish. Pesticide mixtures were prevalent, with the median number of pesticide compounds detected per water sample ranging from 2 (for streams in Washington State, part of the Pacific Northwest region) to 25 (for Midwestern streams). To evaluate the potential for acute and chronic aquatic toxicity of pesticides, aquatic-life benchmarks from USEPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and the Pesticide Toxicity Index (PTI) were used. Acute toxicity for fish, invertebrates or plants was predicted if a pesticide exceeded acute thresholds in any sample. Chronic toxicity (evaluated by site) was predicted if a pesticide’s maximum 21-day (for invertebrates) or 60-day (for fish) moving average concentration exceeded chronic thresholds. Using invertebrates in Central California Coastal streams as an example, acute thresholds were exceeded in 8% of streams. PTI values for benthic invertebrates and cladocerans were used to assess potential acute toxicity of sample mixtures; for samples with PTI values > 0.1, a single insecticide dominated the PTI in about 80% of samples for benthic invertebrates and 50% of samples for cladocerans. However, the weekly sampling design underestimates acute exposures. Invertebrate chronic-effect thresholds for one or more pesticides were exceeded in 25% of the California streams, and in 7% of streams for multiple (2-10) pesticides. The role of mixtures in chronic, sublethal toxicity is unknown, but concurrent exposure to multiple pesticides at chronic-effect levels occurred in most regions. Predicted toxicity assessed using benchmarks and the PTI will be combined with other lines of evidence, such as ecological modeling and results from mesocosm experiments, to evaluate the importance of pesticides as stressors affecting aquatic biota in the sampled streams.

52 Vertical Variations in Trophic State Parameters in Missouri Reservoirs, Daniel Obrecht, University of Missouri

  • Abstract

    Vertical Variations in Trophic State Parameters in Missouri Reservoirs
    Daniel Obrecht, Rebecca L. North, and John R. Jones
    University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

    Water quality in reservoirs is neither stable nor homogenous. Understanding the sources of variation, both temporal and spatial, is important in informing monitoring protocols and data interpretation. This presentation focuses on vertical variation in the photic zone to determine if water quality in samples collected at Secchi depth differ from those from just below the water’s surface. The data set includes total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and algal chlorophyll (CHL) data from 8102 reservoir-visits made over 28 summers, on 232 water bodies located in Missouri, USA. Trophic status of the waterbodies ranges from oligotrophic to hypereutrophic, with individual Secchi readings ranging from 0.01 to 8.60 meters (median = 1.0 meter). Concentrations of the trophic state parameters at Secchi depth were within 5% of surface values in 45% of TN comparisons, 45% for TP, and 37% for CHL. Extreme differences (> 25%) between surface and Secchi values occurred in 6%, 14% and 25% of TN, TP and CHL comparisons, respectively. For all three parameters, the tendency was for higher concentrations at Secchi depth compared to surface. This was especially true for TP and CHL, where > 90% of comparisons that resulted in an extreme difference had higher levels at Secchi depth. Temperatures differences between surface and Secchi samples averaged 0.3 °C in comparisons where nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations in the two samples were within 5% of each other. When the concentrations of trophic state parameters at Secchi depth were > 25% higher than the surface values, the average temperature differences between the samples was 2.4 °C.


Effective Monitoring Collaborations and Partnerships

53 Citizens, Oysters and Changing the Culture Through POP (Pensacola Oyster Project), Barbara Albrecht, Panhandle Watershed Alliance

  • Abstract

    Citizens, Oysters and Changing the Culture Through POP (Pensacola Oyster Project)
    Barbara Albrecht1, Kimberly Bremner2, and Jane M. Caffrey3
    1Bream Fishermen Association, Inc., Pensacola, Florida; 2Bream Fishermen Association, Inc., Gulf Breeze, Florida; 3UWF CEDB, Pensacola, Florida

    The humble oyster, Crassostrea virginica, provides many ecosystem services and goods which have recently been valued in economic terms. These include creating habitat for aquatic and wildlife species, the removal and retention of contaminants, sediment traps and shoreline stabilization, and flood control to name a few. In addition, the biology of oysters offers a valuable way to assess varying coastal waterbodies conditions over time. Oysters throughout the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast have adapted to wide salinity ranges and temperatures extremes including the Perdido and Pensacola Bay Systems located in the Gulf of Mexico. Land use changes, sedimentation, and stormwater impacts have altered suitable oyster habitat with lower oyster populations compared to historic levels. The Bream Fishermen Association, a volunteer monitoring organization established in 1970, has developed a partnership with a newly established oyster aquaculture venture to use oysters as biological indicators in local waters. Citizens were recruited for a pilot project utilizing triploid oyster spat supplied by an aquaculture venture. Spat were placed in cages and hung on docks in several small bayous, bays and surrounding waterways. Survival, growth and water quality conditions were monitored throughout a seven-month period beginning in the spring, summer and into fall of 2018. Results have been interesting and may provide subtle clues about the differences in water quality between nearby waterbodies.

54 Fraser Flats River Habitat Project, Jessica Alexander, Denver Water Department

  • Abstract

    Fraser Flats River Habitat Project
    Jessica Alexander1, Jennifer Stephenson2, and Mike Eytel3
    1Denver Water, Denver, Colorado; 2Northern Water, Berthoud, Colorado; 3Colorado River Water Conservation District, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

    The Learning By Doing Cooperative Effort (LBD) is a unique partnership between West and East Slope Coloradans, formed to cooperatively manage aquatic resources through river restoration projects, water quality enhancement projects, and stream health monitoring in Grand County, Colorado. In May 2018, the county opened a 0.4-mile stretch of the Fraser River for public fishing. This opening marked the culmination of the Fraser Flats River Habitat Project organized by LBD — a group of East and West Slope water interests that share a common goal of improving watershed health in the Colorado River headwaters. This restoration project included instream channel improvements and riparian plantings to enhance aquatic habitat. The success of this project is a testament to what dedicated public-private partnerships can accomplish together.

    Project planning began in 2015 and the work began in May 2017 when 150 community volunteers harvested and planted 2,000 willows and 100 cottonwoods along the 0.91-mile project reach. This was followed by instream habitat improvements constructed in September 2017. Improvements to the riverbed restored the river’s function to concentrate low flows into narrower channels to increase velocity, sediment transport, water oxygenation, and to reduce the surface area of sun exposure. Aquatic habitat quality was restored by increasing the diversity of fast-moving riffles and slow moving, deep, pools for aquatic insects and fish.

    LBD developed a monitoring plan to evaluate the river’s pre- and post-project conditions. LBD has used the expertise of its partner organizations as well as outside consultant scientists to document changes in macroinvertebrate populations, substrate and spawning site quality, fish biomass and the number of quality trout, stream temperature, and the growth of the riparian plantings.

    Shortly after construction, post-project data collected in October 2017 by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) on the fish population found a four-fold increase in the number of fish as compared to pre-project conditions. The improvements to the restored stretch of river have brought the trout population up to similar numbers compared to other stretches of the Fraser River. CPW will continue to monitor the trout population in the Fraser Flats and expects the fish should continue to thrive.

55 Generating a Geochemical Model Using Collaborative Continuous Data Streams:  A Tool to Help Understand the Effects of River Discharge on Estuaries, Owen Boram, Unaffiliated

  • Abstract

    Generating a Geochemical Model Using Collaborative Continuous Data Streams: A Tool to Help Understand the Effects of River Discharge on Estuaries
    Owen Boram and Satya Fawcett
    Ocean Research College Academy, Everett Community College, Everett, Washington

    Students at the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA), a dual enrollment program at Everett Community College, have pioneered a longitudinal study, monitoring the health of Possession Sound via monthly data collection from 2004 to present. Located in the Whidbey Basin of the northern reaches of Puget Sound, Possession Sound contains the Snohomish River estuary, encompassing a river system that is the third largest contributor of freshwater to the Puget Sound. Through a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation, selected students have the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Washington, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and a local environmental consultant Gravity Marine. Utilizing data collected by permanently moored Sea-Bird CTD probes, data collected during research cruises, and data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the authors of this project have created model to facilitate an investigation of how both tides and the discharge of freshwater from the Snohomish River influence the water quality of Possession Sound.

    To better understand the complex patterns of the water entering Possession Sound from the Snohomish River the authors analyzed the relationship between a continuous stream of water quality data from a Sea-Bird CTD probe at the mouth of the Snohomish River and continuous discharge data gathered by the USGS at a station 12 miles up the river. The distance between these two sites results in a delay between when river discharge data is recorded up river and when it influences the water quality at the river mouth. From the analysis of these two locations and with guidance from their collaborators as well as outside professionals, the authors used the statistical analysis language R to create a model that predicts the travel time of water from the USGS stream gage to Possession Sound. This model can be applied when considering important factors of the river and how these factors affect the estuary, such as nutrient loading, influxes of cold water which promotes upwelling, and the river’s contribution of heavy metals and other pollutants.

56 Standardizing Citizen-Led Creek Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area, Helen Fitanides, The Watershed Project

  • Abstract

    Standardizing Citizen-led Creek Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
    Helen Fitanides
    The Watershed Project, Richmond, California

    Long-term, standardized creek monitoring is key to determining the health of creeks and their watersheds. Many community-led creek organizations collect monitoring data sporadically, using different equipment and methods from other nearby groups, which makes it difficult to compare data across watersheds. This is our loss, because most of these groups are made up of dedicated neighbors and residents who not only have strong ties to their watershed, but also to other members of their local community. These groups are an un-tapped resource, especially in areas where the local government lacks the capacity to conduct frequent water quality monitoring.

    In this poster I will communicate the importance of collaboration among monitoring groups, as well as method standardization and good quality assurance protocols. Since 2016, The Watershed Project has worked to bring together more than 10 diverse organizations (including colleges, environmental nonprofits, and local government agencies) in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Contra Costa County. We use California’s statewide standardized protocol, which allows for robust data comparison on both the local and statewide scale and makes this program replicable in other California communities. By providing detailed training for monitors and standardizing equipment and methodology, we collect high quality data from over 25 sites that can be compared across the county, as well as be entered in the California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN). Through this data, we can learn important information about regional and local trends and inform decision makers.

    Additionally, the data we collect is provided free to the public via an interactive map through the Water Reporter app, where community members can see the temperature or dissolved oxygen levels in different areas of their creek and compare their creek with others in the area. By creating a shared dataset and visualization method, we help improve the connectivity between watershed community groups and provide a platform for future collaborations. We feel that this model of training citizen scientists to collect high quality data, as well as providing a standardized dataset for the public, municipalities and decision makers, is highly transferable and provides multi-layered benefits to the local community and environment.

57 Citizen Monitoring Efforts Tracking the Effectiveness of the City of Chico Municipal Stormwater Program and Low Impact Development (LID) Projects Implemented In The Big Chico Creek Watershed, Timmarie Hamill, Volunteer

  • Abstract

    Citizen Monitoring Efforts Tracking the Effectiveness of the City of Chico Municipal Stormwater Program and Low Impact Development (LID) Projects Implemented in the Big Chico Creek Watershed
    Timmarie Hamill1 and Randy S. Senock2
    1Big Chico Creek Citizen Monitoring Group, Chico, California; 2Department of Geological and Environmental Science, California State University, Chico, California

    Seasonal and diurnal patterns of stream water temperature are important for determining useful watershed management strategies and prioritizing restoration projects to protect aquatic habitat. The Big Chico Creek Volunteer Watershed Monitoring Program collected stream temperature data during 2005 and 2006 to identify stream reaches with water temperatures within published ranges determined to be optimal, lethal or have chronic sub-lethal effects on growth and reproductive success of spring-run salmon. The Big Chico Creek watershed can be divided into three geologic zones: mountain, foothill, and valley. Each zone has distinct thermal gradients. Seven-day running mean daily averages, mean daily maximums, and maximum weekly averages (MWAT) were calculated to determine stream temperature within each study reach. Daily mean thermal gradients were also calculated by averaging the differences between air and water temperatures over a 12-hour heating or cooling period to determine environmental influences on water temperatures. Stream reaches in the mountain zone have optimal temperature ranges for upstream salmon migration, adult holding, spawning and juvenile rearing, but is outside their migratory range. During adult holding periods, stream reaches in the foothill and valley zones appear to have less than optimal stream temperatures during the month of July. Salmon that fail to move up into the foothills through the Iron Canyon Fish Ladder when flows are adequate for fish passage may become stranded in the valley zone and subject to sub-lethal and lethal high stream temperatures.

58 Biomonitoring for Reintroduced American Eel in the Susquehanna River Basin, Aaron Henning, Susquehanna River Basin Commission

  • Abstract

    Biomonitoring for Reintroduced American Eel in the Susquehanna River Basin
    Aaron Henning
    Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) was formerly a prominent component of the Susquehanna River Basin’s fish community, constituting up to 25% of the assemblage’s biomass and representing an important fishery resource for local communities. Migratory fish passage in the basin effectively ceased in the early 20th century as multiple large hydroelectric dams were constructed across the lower mainstem Susquehanna River. Since 2005, multiple entities have worked towards restoring the basin’s American eel population, utilizing a variety of techniques and strategies. The principle mechanism has been through trap and transport of eels from below the first hydroelectric dam in the basin to upstream areas in Pennsylvania. To date over one million American eels have been captured and transplanted in Pennsylvania. Vast dispersal has been documented across the 25,000 square mile basin from a handful of stocking locations. Recolonization of previously unoccupied watersheds has occurred, and distributional data has identified additional impedances to migration. Five tributaries were stocked directly and have been routinely monitored at regular intervals. Biomonitoring data from experimental stocking locations shown successful reintegration, accelerated growth rates and restored ecosystem functions. Inter-agency coordination and public-private partnerships have driven much of the success of the restoration program.

59 Achieving Accurate and Precise Data in Community-Based, Water-Quality Monitoring: The Indigenous Observation Network, Nicole Herman-Mercer, USGS

  • Abstract

    Achieving Accurate and Precise Data in Community-Based, Water-Quality Monitoring: The Indigenous Observation Network
    Nicole Herman-Mercer1, Ronald Antweiler1, Nicole J. Wilson2, Edda A. Mutter3, Ryan C. Toohey4, and Paul F. Schuster5
    1US Geological Survey – Water Mission Area, Denver, Colorado; 2University of British Columbia – Peter A. Allard School of Law, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; 3Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Anchorage, Alaska; 4US Geological Survey – DOI Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, Anchorage, Alaska; 5US Geological Survey – Water Mission Area, Boulder, Colorado

    When using Community-based monitoring or citizen science data for research or decision making, scientists and policy makers have been concerned about data accuracy and reliability. The Indigenous Observation Network relies on community technicians to collect surface-water samples from as many as fifty locations in the Yukon River Basin of Alaska and Canada. The major goals are to monitor the quality of the Yukon River and major tributaries in the basin, and to create and maintain, a long-term record documenting trends and perturbations of water quality. We address concerns about the accuracy, precision, and reliability of data collected by non-professionals. One sampling location for the Indigenous Observation Network is also sampled as part of the US Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Network, and the Woods Hole Research Center’s Arctic Great Rivers Observatory project. Field and laboratory protocols and procedures used by all three projects are compared the data of the three projects are statistically compared through a retrospective analysis of a set of common water-quality parameters reported over the years 2007–2014. No statistical differences were found among the three projects for pH, calcium, magnesium, or alkalinity. The results for pH are particularly important as these measurements are taken in situ with a device that must be calibrated by the Indigenous Observation Network community technician. However, statistically significant (p value < 0.05) differences were found for sodium, chloride, sulfate, and potassium concentrations. Potential reasons for this variation could include sample collection methods but could also be due to biases among the three analyzing laboratories. Directly comparing Indigenous Observation Network, National Water Quality Network, and Arctic Great Rivers Observatory data show that Indigenous Observation Network data track the environmental trends found in the professional data. Retrospective statistical analysis showed no statistical differences for four parameters, and the differences that were found for sodium, chloride, sulfate, and potassium were small and likely not significant in terms of interpreting the data. Our results suggest that Indigenous Observation Network data are of high quality, and with consistent protocols and participant training, community-based monitoring projects can collect data that are accurate, precise, and reliable.

60 Celebrating 50 Years of Province-Wide Stream Water Quality Monitoring Through Effective Partnerships: The Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network in Ontario, Canada, Georgina Kaltenecker, Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network

  • Abstract

    Celebrating 50 Years of Province-Wide Stream Water Quality Monitoring Through Effective Partnerships: The Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network in Ontario, Canada
    Georgina Kaltenecker
    Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ontario, Canada

    The Ontario Provincial stream Water Quality Monitoring Network, known locally as the PWQMN, is unique in Canada. For over 50 years, the provincial ministry of the environment in partnership with Conservation Authorities (local watershed management agencies) has been collecting water quality information across the province of Ontario, an area of over one million square kilometers. Water quality sampling over this vast geographic region would not be possible if not for these partnerships.

    This poster will provide an overview of the PWQMN partnership model as well as highlighting strengths, important considerations (such as consistency, data integrity, communication), and challenges encountered. Results from this long-term monitoring partnership will also be presented including long term trends and applications of the data. The poster will conclude with anticipated future directions for this partnership program.

61 Innovative, Collaborative Opportunities for Undergraduate Students Monitoring Marine Water Quality, Katherine Dye, Marina McLeod, and Ardi Kveven, Everett Community College

  • Abstract

    Innovative, Collaborative Opportunities for Undergraduate Students Monitoring Marine Water Quality
    Ardi Kveven, Katherine Dye, Robin Araniva, and Marina McLeod

    Ocean Research College Academy, Everett Community College, Everett, Washington

    Engaging undergraduate students in collaborative monitoring efforts with local and state level agencies involved in marine water quality monitoring creates exciting opportunities for students to learn about research and be invested in the region where they live. The project team from the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) at Everett Community College received a grant from the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education/Pathways into Geoscience (IUSE: GEOPATHS) to provide catalytic research experiences that connect dually enrolled high school/community college students with local professionals, thereby expanding their geoscience skills and professional networking, increasing the likelihood that students will pursue a geoscience major. This project deployed two SeaBird CTDs owned by the Washington State Department of Ecology and maintained by the ORCA students in the Snohomish river estuary near Everett, Washington. Engineering for deployment and telemetry was designed by Gravity Marine Consulting Services. Water quality data (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll concentration) were collected and transmitted every 30 minutes and made available online at WQLive. Students analyzed and interpreted the data stream (using R) and created an end of the summer product similar to the Department of Ecology product, Eyes Over Puget Sound. This partnership provides real work experiences for students, but also positive role models, professional connections and mentors.

62 Using Project WET to Empower an Existing Network of Citizen Scientists, Candice Miller, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

  • Abstract

    Using Project WET to Empower an Existing Network of Citizen Scientists
    Candice Miller
    Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Oklahoma’s Blue Thumb program has focused on water protection through education by empowering citizen scientists over the past 25 years. While our volunteer citizen scientists have strongly participated in water quality monitoring and biological assessments, many had been timid about participating in outreach and education programs. At the end of 2016, Blue Thumb had the opportunity to bring Project WET, a water-based education curriculum, into our program and it has changed the trajectory of our education effort, with our not only staff, but volunteers as well. The incorporation of Project WET has allowed our staff to expand their water education toolbox, in order to better suit the needs of those seeking water education opportunities. It also allowed Blue Thumb to include a Project WET workshop into all new volunteer trainings, providing all new volunteers with a water-based curriculum guidebook. We are truly empowering volunteers to not only participate but lead education and outreach efforts in Oklahoma, fulfilling our vision of water protection through education. However, the process of fully incorporating Project WET into an existing citizen science program did not come without setbacks. We hope that by sharing our path, both good and bad, in merging two programs that we may be able to help those facing similar situations or encourage others to seek out similar partnerships in order to expand the reach of education and volunteer efforts in their regions.

63 A Unique Partnership for Establishing Water Quality Monitoring on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts Near the Border With Vermont and New Hampshire, Jonathan Morrison, USGS

  • Abstract

    A Unique Partnership for Establishing Water Quality Monitoring on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts Near the Border With Vermont and New Hampshire
    Jonathan Morrison1, Joshua Schimmel2, and Kimberly Groff3
    1US Geological Survey, East Hartford, Connecticut; 2Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, Agawam, Massachusetts; 3Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Worcester, Massachusetts

    In 1985 the USEPA initiated a Long Island Sound (LIS) study that identified nitrogen as the leading cause of hypoxia in Long Island Sound. The Connecticut River delivers approximately 70 percent of the fresh water to LIS and is a significant source of nitrogen to eastern LIS. The US Geological Survey (USGS) has been sampling nitrogen and calculating nitrogen loading from the Connecticut River to LIS at Thompsonville, Connecticut since 1968. This has allowed for the calculation of nitrogen loads from the Connecticut River watershed above the Connecticut state-line. In 2015 the USEPA initiated a Nitrogen Reduction Strategy for LIS establishing new nitrogen endpoints in addition to those established in the 2001 TMDL. The strategy did not include collection of any new data which was of concern to the partners as new regulatory endpoints potentially would drive hundreds of millions of dollars in wastewater treatment plant upgrades.

    In the fall of 2017 the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission began a cooperative partnership with the USGS to monitor the Connecticut River at Northfield, Massachusetts to help understand and quantify sources of nitrogen in the Connecticut River entering Massachusetts that may ultimately discharge from Massachusetts to Connecticut, and LIS. The project establishes a new USGS Connecticut River monitoring station at Northfield near the Massachusetts/New Hampshire/Vermont border and enhances the monitoring at the USGS Thompsonville station. Data collected from these monitoring stations will be used for nitrogen load estimation, filling a data need that was not being met or funded by traditional approaches. Goals of the partners are to establish a nitrogen mass balance for the Connecticut River in Massachusetts that will allow for further monitoring programs to determine sources of nitrogen informing decision making for nitrogen reduction strategies. This partnership between a regulated regional water utility, a managing state regulatory agency, and a government scientific agency will provide accurate data to assist regulators, the regulated community, and other stakeholders in better understanding the sources and fate of nitrogen in the Connecticut River and its contribution to the impairment of LIS.

64 Investigating the Biogeochemical Influence of the Freshwater Plume in a Salt Wedge Estuary, Ingrid Phillips, Unaffiliated

  • Abstract

    Investigating the Biogeochemical Influence of the Freshwater Plume in a Salt Wedge Estuary
    Ingrid Phillips
    Ocean Research College Academy, Everett, Washington

    In Possession Sound, a salt wedge estuary in Washington State, interactions between the saltwater of Puget Sound and the freshwater of the Snohomish River create a dynamic estuarine environment. Students from the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA), a magnet, dual enrollment program at Everett Community College, placed two Sea-Bird CTDs (owned by the Washington State Department of Ecology) within the estuary to monitor water chemistry in this complex system. A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF-IUSE/GEOPATHS) supported eleven students to analyze CTD data from summer 2018 to increase their understanding of biogeochemical processes in the estuary and communicate their knowledge to the general public, along with networking with Ecology scientists. Turbidity was selected as a primary parameter for this study. Data from the month of May were analyzed to investigate the river’s influence on the turbidity. Higher levels of turbidity correlated with peaks in freshwater input, indicated by both low salinity values and river discharge data. Turbidity also had an inverse correlation with tide height and chlorophyll. Additionally, the Sea-Bird probe closest to the river showed higher turbidity levels. This suggests that sediments and other suspended material in the river influence turbidity based on proximity to the mouth of the river, tide height, and discharge. To further investigate the extent of the influence of the Snohomish River on Possession Sound, students will manufacture a FLAMe sampler (in collaboration with the Department of Ecology), which measures surface water chemistry while traveling on a research vessel, associating data with GPS points, to track the freshwater plume. These data will be used to examine the relationship between the plume, river discharge, and tidal patterns, as well as trends in water chemistry and biomass in the water column.

65 At the Table: Bringing Resources Together to Measure the Effectiveness of Tillage Practices on Water Quality in Eastern Washington., Stacy Polkowske, State of Washington, Department of Ecology

  • Abstract

    At the Table: Bringing Resources Together to Measure the Effectiveness of Tillage Practices on Water Quality in Eastern Washington
    Ryan Boylan1, Scott Collyard2, and Stacy Polkowske2
    1Palouse Conservation District, Pullman, Washington; 2Washington Department of Ecology, Lacey, Washington

    Farming the rolling hills of the Palouse River Watershed in Eastern Washington has deep roots reaching back to the 1860s. With some of the most productive agricultural land in the United States, this area leads the nation in wheat, barley and lentil production. In 2016, the Palouse Conservation District and the Washington Department of Ecology initiated a paired-watershed monitoring project to see how conventional tillage (till) and conservation tillage (no-till) affect sediment runoff into adjacent streams. Conventional tillage (till) practices break down crop residue and can result in increased sediment entering adjacent streams. Conservation tillage (no-till) practices leave crop residue intact which allows plant roots to hold the soil down and increase water infiltration rates. These two partners brought different skills, connections and resources to the table to get this project off the ground and into action. Ecology spearheaded the development of the monitoring plan, trained District staff, and provided water quality monitoring support throughout the project. The District led the charge with building local landowner trust and awareness, fundraising and managing the project, and conducting the on-the-ground sampling. After two years, this project has produced important information about the effects of tillage practices and has sustained a larger conversation about soil conservation in the Palouse.

66 A New Approach for Stormwater Outreach, Education, and Involvement: South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream, Kaleigh Sims, Clemson University

  • Abstract

    A New Approach for Stormwater Outreach, Education, and Involvement: South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream
    Kaleigh Sims1, Karen Jackson2, and Katie Callahan3
    1Clemson Extension, Anderson, South Carolina; 2Clemson Extension, Richland, South Carolina; 3Center for Watershed Excellence, Pendleton, South Carolina

    Public outreach, education, and involvement are important factors to protect our natural resources, particularly when it comes to polluted stormwater runoff. In South Carolina, NPDES permit compliance requires municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) to address six minimum control measures to mitigate the impacts of our growing communities. Clemson Extension’s Carolina Clear program partners with communities to help meet two of these minimum control measures: (1) public education and outreach and (2) public participation and involvement. The newly formed South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS) program is a useful tool for Carolina Clear to help address these requirements. The SC AAS program has been developed and is coordinated in a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) and Clemson University’s Center for Watershed Excellence. This volunteer citizen science monitoring program strives to involve the public in local watershed management, increasing awareness of the connection between local land use decisions and impacts to stream health and water quality. Certified volunteers collect water quality data on chemical, bacterial, and biological parameters, as well as stream habitat condition. These data can then be shared and viewed on an online public database by stakeholders. This program encourages those interested to “lean in” on the connection between land use change, management decisions, and the multiple disciplines involved in watershed management. In our partnership with local communities, schools, and organizations, our area stormwater consortium utilizes South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream to further fill in the gaps of water quality information. The partnering MS4s are required to monitor impaired watersheds to demonstrate that their MS4 is not causing or adding to that impairment. SC AAS can save partnering community dollars through volunteers’ efforts. Our hope is that by using SC AAS as a tool in our outreach and education efforts, volunteer citizen scientists can help increase the knowledge of our waterways, create a long-term database beneficial for the public and state and local agencies, and lead to improved management of local waterways.

67 Community-Based Monitoring in New Jersey: A Mutualistic Relationship Between Volunteers and the State, Erin Stretz, The Watershed Institute

  • Abstract

    Community-Based Monitoring in New Jersey: A Mutualistic Relationship Between Volunteers and the State
    Erin Stretz
    The Watershed Institute, Pennington, New Jersey

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has funded the first three years of a new community-based water monitoring network to establish strong relationships with existing volunteer programs, build capacity for additional volunteers and an expanded geographic scope, and provide resources for groups to upgrade their data quality.

    In a state focused on “home rule”, New Jersey volunteer programs remain independent and subject to their own sampling plans and protocols for data management and sharing. The new network brings a measure of cohesion to this methodology, offering a standardized study design and QAPP approval process depending on the intended data quality and use. Training and one-on-one assistance is provided for each community-based program, including guidance on developing new regional monitoring programs, lab and in situ parameter certification, and data submission through WQX Web.

    Now in the early stages of this new program, the focus is on communicating directly with volunteers to understand what their needs are and to clarify what is required to produce data of sufficient quality for inclusion in the Integrated Report. The results of our survey of New Jersey monitoring groups will be shared to shed light on their unique goals for intended data use, training opportunities, and program growth.

    NJDEP has invested in its monitoring infrastructure by recognizing the value of volunteers and bringing them to the table, resulting in high quality data with which to develop well-informed assessments. Other states can follow this model to leverage their own citizen scientists to help reduce their own data gaps.

68 The Oldest Community Well Testing Program in the Country: A Successful Model for Public Health and Groundwater Surveillance, Mara Tippett, Raritan Headwaters

  • Abstract

    The Oldest Community Well Testing Program in the Country: A Successful Model for Public Health and Groundwater Surveillance
    Mara Tippett
    Raritan Headwaters, Bedminster, New Jersey

    The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) protects public health by regulating community drinking water supplies. Individuals connected to these systems are supplied water that has been tested and treated to meet SDWA standards. However, a 2010 USGS study reveals that over 44 million Americans lack access to a regulated water supply. Unlike municipal systems, private wells are not regularly tested by any authority and the well owner bears the responsibility to test and treat. Despite state-supported well testing programs such as New Jersey’s Private Well Testing Act, only half of New Jersey residents with private wells have had their water tested for contaminants. Of those who have tested, most have done so just once, unaware of the importance of re-testing in subsequent years. Furthermore, there are no requirements to treat private well water if contamination is detected.

    While groundwater is perceived to be a safe and reliable water supply, natural and anthropogenic water quality impairments do occur. Septic systems, fertilizers, and naturally occurring arsenic are just a few examples of contamination sources. Regular monitoring is critically important to ensuring a safe water supply and community-supported testing programs help prevent exposure to drinking water contaminants by making the testing process convenient and affordable. Raritan Headwaters’ Community Well Testing Program has monitored the health of the region’s groundwater supply for over 30 years and is the oldest program of its kind in the country. In partnership with 33 municipalities, the environmental non-profit located in central New Jersey tests over 1300 wells annually.

    More than 3 decades of data from well testing in the Upper Raritan River watershed – 14,000 individual records – were recently analyzed to find out what changes have occurred in our groundwater over time. By analyzing long-term trends, we can increase understanding of the causes associated with declines in water quality, such as land use change, climate change, and impairments related to pollutants. Our water quality data has played a major role in advocating for water protection policies in the state and the Community Well Test Program serves as a model for other safe drinking water programs both in the region and nationwide.

69 Heavy Metal Cycling in Possession Sound: A Study of the Role of Eelgrass and Water Column Trace Metals in Possession Sound and the Snohomish River Estuary, Hannah Weinrich, Unaffiliated

  • Abstract

    Heavy Metal Cycling in Possession Sound: A Study of the Role of Eelgrass and Water Column Trace Metals in Possession Sound and the Snohomish River Estuary
    Hannah Weinrich
    Ocean Research College Academy, Everett, Washington

    Through a collaborative partnership with the University of Washington, the Washington Department of Ecology, and Gravity Environmental Consulting, high school seniors at the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) engage in pioneering, hands-on oceanographic research in Possession Sound. Possession Sound is a part of Puget Sound that borders the city of Everett and contains the Snohomish River Estuary. With grant funding from the National Science Foundation, students at ORCA conduct original studies to test the presence of heavy metals in eelgrass, sediment, and the water column of Possession Sound and the Snohomish River Estuary.

    Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is an ecologically important species of flowering marine plant that inhabits sublittoral soft sediments in the northern hemisphere. Eelgrass beds provide critical food and habitat for many species of fish, invertebrates, and birds including salmon and brant geese. The author previously investigated concentrations of heavy metals in eelgrass blades and surrounding sediment in Possession Sound, finding that concentrations of arsenic, copper, and zinc were higher in eelgrass tissues than sediment. These results suggested that eelgrass uptake metals from the water column as well as sediment and accumulate them, a process which is further studied as a part of this project. In addition, study locations nearer to the mouth of the Snohomish River and human activity had higher concentrations of heavy metals overall.

    Eelgrass, sediment, and water samples were collected from several sites in Possession Sound and analyzed for trace metals. In addition, water from the Snohomish River Estuary was sampled and analyzed in

    order to determine the influence of freshwater inflow in the metal cycling process. Studying the concentrations and source waters of heavy metals in Possession Sound, as well as the cycle of these metals in the ecosystem, is an important piece of the puzzle when trying to understand variables that affect the ecosystem as a whole. This presentation will detail original research into the cycling of heavy metals, their presence in the water column of Possession Sound, and their accumulation in eelgrass tissues and sediments.

70 Central Plains Regional Monitoring Network (RMN) Partnership with Federal, State, Tribal and University Collaborators, Gary Welker, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Central Plains Regional Monitoring Network (RMN) Partnership with Federal, State, Tribal and University Collaborators
    Gary Welker, Shawn Henderson, and Jeremy Yazzie
    US Environmental Protection Agency Region 7, Environmental Sciences and Technology Division, Monitoring and Environmental Services Branch; Kansas City, Kansas

    The US Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas City has established a regional monitoring network (RMN) on Central Plains wadeable streams to monitor long term baseline conditions over time. The RMN is a partnership of federal, state, tribal and university scientists from US EPA Regions 7, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, University of Kansas, University of Iowa, Haskell Indian University, Winnebago Tribe, Sac and Fox Tribe, Potawatomi Tribe and Kickapoo Tribe. The focus of the monitoring network is on wadeable stream temperature, stream flow and biological community (macroinvertebrates) over a gradient of stream conditions. Streams included in the Central Plains RMN range from reference quality to degraded urban stream conditions. Also included are a group of wetlands monitored by Haskell Indian University. Initial challenges of initiative are the establishment of long-term monitor stations meant to be monitored over decades, consistent monitoring methodologies between multiple collaborators and the establishment of a centralized data base to store and analyze a large amount of discrete and continuous chemical, physical and biological data.

71 Baywatchers Program: The Influence Monitoring Can Have on Decision-Making, Christine Gurdon, Buzzards Bay Coalition

  • Abstract

    Baywatchers Program: The Influence Monitoring Can Have on Decision-Making
    Christine Gurdon
    Buzzards Bay Coalition, New Bedford, Massachusetts

    Excessive nutrient inputs from land use are impacting habitat health and water quality along the Buzzards Bay coastline. At greatest risk are the 30 harbors, coves, and rivers surrounding Buzzards Bay because they receive the bulk of the nutrient load from the watershed. Managing nutrient loads is often challenging because of the diffuse nature of many nutrient sources, e.g., septic tanks and agriculture.

    The Baywatchers program is collecting water quality data to better understand Buzzards Bay’s ecosystem and its response to human impacts, and to guide restoration and protection. Since 1992, the program has had more than 1,000 citizen volunteers, enabling the Buzzards Bay Coalition to monitor the Bay’s major embayments, an area covering ¼ of the Massachusetts coastline. It would not be possible to collect this abundance of water quality data without the help from our volunteers. Not only is the program collecting water quality data, but also educating citizens about nitrogen pollution and how it is harmful to coastal waterways.

    The data collected is provided to both local and State environmental managers and has been used in developing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPYDES) permits and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). For example, Baywatchers monitoring data in the Agawam River resulted in decreases in the amount of nitrogen to the river and improvements in water clarity. In addition, the data is converted into a Bay Health Index for each monitored embayment to demonstrate the long-term trends of nitrogen-related water quality. The Baywatchers Program applies consistent methods, analyzes and deciphers long-term data and builds collaborations with Towns and other stakeholders to protect the watershed and maintain ecosystem health.

72 Partnering for Clean Water on California’s Central Coast: How Bioassessment Monitoring Informs Restoration and Conservation, Karissa Willits, Morro Bay National Estuary Program

  • Abstract

    Partnering for Clean Water on California’s Central Coast: How Bioassessment Monitoring Informs Restoration and Conservation
    Karissa Willits and Ann Kitajima
    Morro Bay National Estuary Program, Morro Bay, California

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program (Estuary Program) is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. Morro Bay is one of the largest and least disturbed estuaries remaining on the central coast of California. We are a science-based organization with three focus areas: restoration, monitoring, and education. The goals of our monitoring program are to collect high quality data to inform our own restoration and education efforts and to share this data with partners, including agencies, non-profits, citizens, and landowners. We partner closely with the Water Boards and other agencies to improve the quality of data collected and ensure that data is useful for their efforts.

    We have been conducting bioassessment surveys in the Morro Bay watershed since the early 2000s, and our data indicated impaired conditions on Chorro Creek, our mainstem creek that drains 60% of the watershed into the estuary. Using a newly developed pollutant category, the regional Water Board listed Chorro Creek as having impaired Benthic Community Effects. The Water Board utilized our data to determine that other creeks in the watershed were not impaired for Benthic Community Effects. We are now the main entity conducting these surveys in the watershed and will continue to do so.

    Bioassessment monitoring is labor intensive, and it would not be possible for the Estuary Program to create an ongoing dataset without the support of citizen scientists. Program staff conduct an annual volunteer training to prepare volunteers to assist with up to a dozen surveys each spring. This mix of staff expertise and volunteers allow the continuation of a robust, long-term monitoring dataset on a small budget. These efforts are supported by partnerships with regional and state water boards, a local university, private foundation and public and private landowners.

    This collaborative effort allows for the collection of technically complex data and provides invaluable information for watershed health assessment while educating the scientists of tomorrow with real world monitoring skills.


Measuring Effectiveness of Management Actions, Improvement, and Restoration Activities

73 Sediment and Nutrient Loading From a Conventional and Conservation Tilled Paired Watershed Study in the Dryland Farming Region of the Inland Pacific Northwest, Ryan Boylan, Palouse Conservation District, Pullman, WA

  • Abstract

    Sediment and Nutrient Loading From a Conventional and Conservation Tilled Paired Watershed Study in the Dryland Farming Region of the Inland Pacific Northwest
    Ryan Boylan1, Scott Collyard2, and Anthony Hatcher1
    1Palouse Conservation District, Pullman, Washington; 2Washington State Department of Ecology, Lacey, Washington

    The US Pacific Northwest dryland farming region has historically held records for soft white winter wheat yields, while having some of the highest erosion rates in the nation. To address the erosion issue, a group of 19 partners formed the Palouse River Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) with goals of implementing 45,000 acres of conservation tillage and 250 acres of riparian buffers over five years. To assess the effectiveness of voluntary incentive-based conservation measures, an intensive monitoring program has been developed to examine differences in water quality data; specifically, sediment and nutrient loading from two sub-watersheds under differing tillage management practices. The two watersheds are located in agricultural drainages of similar area, slope and soils northwest of St. John, WA. Kamiache Creek, the treatment watershed, is managed under 80% conservation tillage and Thorn Creek, the control, is managed under 80% conventional tillage. Both watersheds were instrumented with staff gauges, continuous pressure and turbidity sensors and ISCO water samplers at the outlets. Continuous pressure sensors and staff gauges were installed at eight additional monitoring locations, four in each sub-watershed. Grab samples were collected monthly and during storm events at all locations and were analyzed for total phosphorus, ortho-phosphorus, nitrate/nitrite, dissolved organic carbon, total organic carbon, turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations. Sediment and nutrient loads were calculated on a flow-weighted basis and temporal and spatial trends throughout each subwatershed were examined. Preliminary results indicate that Kamiache Creek (conservation tillage) is generating 5.5 times less sediment than Thorn Creek (conventional tillage). Annual sediment loads from water year 2017 in Kamiache Creek were 220 tons (0.02 tons/acre) compared to 2,447 tons (0.1 tons/acre) from Thorn Creek. While this data makes a compelling case for conservation tillage in the Pacific Northwest dryland farming region, there are several other factors including annual precipitation, soil types, tile drainage and cultural norms that need to be considered when explaining the differences in sediment loads from both watersheds.

74 Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Temporal Trends, Spatial Patterns, and Future Projections, Douglas Burns, USGS

  • Abstract

    Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Temporal Trends, Spatial Patterns, and Future Projections
    Douglas Burns1, Lewis Linker2, Jesse Bash3, Gopal Bhatt4, and Gary Shenk5
    1US Geological Survey, Troy, New York; 2US Environmental Protection Agency, Annapolis, Maryland; 3US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; 4Pennsylvania State University, Annapolis, Maryland; 5US Geological Survey, Annapolis, Maryland

    Sources of nitrogen (N) are of great interest and concern in the Chesapeake Bay watershed because of the role of this nutrient in promoting eutrophication of the Bay. Additionally, a multi-state effort seeks to reduce N loads to improve estuarine health. Atmospheric N deposition was identified as one of the major sources of N to the Bay by studies published in the 1980s and 90s, and current estimates are that this source contributes 15 to 30% of annual N loads to the Bay. Monitoring data and model results show that wet deposition of atmospheric nitrate has declined by half during 1997 to 2016, a change driven by a sharp decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions within the Bay airshed. In contrast, various measures of deposition and emissions of reduced N have shown little change over this same period. Future projections suggest that atmospheric N deposition will continue to decline in coming decades, although the extent of change will depend on future rules promulgated under the Clean Air Act as well as economic considerations. A recent analysis indicates that climate change is not likely to greatly affect future atmospheric N deposition through the mid-21st century. In conclusion, atmospheric N deposition is a significant contributor to N loads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and declines in these loads in recent years provide the second most important contribution after declines in point source N to deceases in watershed N loads and associated improvements in Bay health.

75 Value of Economic Information for SPARROW Nutrient Modeling of BMP Placement: A Case Study, Heather Fair-Wu, USGS

  • Abstract

    Value of Economic Information for SPARROW Nutrient Modeling of BMP Placement: A Case Study
    Heather Fair-Wu1, Lucas Bair2, and Earl A. Greene3
    1Knauss Fellow, US Geological Survey Water Mission Area, Reston, Virginia; US Geological Survey Southwest Biological Science Center, Flagstaff, Arizona; 3US Geological Survey Water Resource Research Act Program, Baltimore, Maryland

    Scientific information initiates policy and guides decision makers in determining optimal courses of action for environmental, public health, social, and infrastructure issues. Information underpinned by rigorous scientific research is paramount to inform policy, yet the economic value of scientific information is seldom incorporated into the policy planning process. In this research we identified a water quality issue in the Chesapeake Bay that used US Geological Survey SPARROW nutrient modeling to determine best locations for agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to reduce the maximum amount of nutrient loading into the Bay. We followed the goal of the Farm Bill program to allocate 95% of the federal funding to the top 25% nutrient loading agricultural acres and compared this with the counterfactual scenario (without information) of applying BMPs equally across the agricultural acres in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. We exhausted 95% of the Farm Bill funding ($150 million) on the high nutrient-loading acres by applying more BMPs and calculated the nutrients reduced on the SPARROW-targeted acres. We then calculated what it would cost to reduce the same amount of nutrients for the counterfactual scenario by applying additional BMPs across all acres. The total cost of the BMPs to reduce the same amount of nutrients in the counterfactual scenario was calculated at > $203 million, which meant that the avoided costs by using SPARROW model information was $53 million. This initial water quality value of information case scenario focusing on nitrogen nutrient loading reduction shows great promise in using scientific information for policy and planning decisions and might be considered in future water quality scenarios.

76 Monitoring Water-Quality Responses to Pipeline Construction Along Two Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Routes in Virginia, John Jastram, USGS

  • Abstract

    Monitoring Water-Quality Responses to Pipeline Construction Along Two Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Routes in Virginia
    Ethan Geisler, John Jastram, and Douglas Moyer
    US Geological Survey Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center, Richmond, Virginia

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is partnering with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to collect water-quality data along two proposed natural gas pipelines in Virginia – the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). A network of 26 multi-parameter continuous water-quality monitoring stations has been installed to monitor conditions above and below thirteen proposed pipeline crossings of high-priority streams. These monitoring stations are equipped with sensors to measure water level, water temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Understanding water-quality responses to these proposed stream crossings in near real-time is important because these high-priority streams include streams that are home to sensitive trout populations, home to endangered species, have been designated as Tier 3 streams, and/or serve as public water supplies. Data collection across the network was initiated in Fall 2017 to document baseline water-quality conditions, and, if the proposed construction is approved, will continue during and after construction to assess construction effects. The results of this program will help both regulators and industry understand how streams respond to pipeline construction, providing value to both the currently proposed pipelines and potential future pipelines.

77 Reducing Dissolved Phosphorus in Stream Water May Not Influence Estimation of Sediment Equilibrium Phosphorus Concentrations, Eleanor Henson, University of Arkansas

  • Abstract

    Reducing Dissolved Phosphorus in Stream Water May Not Influence Estimation of Sediment Equilibrium Phosphorus Concentrations
    Eleanor Henson1, Abbie Lasater1, and Brian Haggard1,2
    1Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas; 2Arkansas Water Resource Center, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

    The potential for stream sediments to absorb or release Phosphorus (P) depends on the equilibrium P concentration (EPC), which is the water column P concentration where P is neither absorbed nor released from the sediments. This in-stream process can modify edge-of-field P losses and P loads transported downstream. Current methods of measuring EPC in streams include adding known P concentrations to stream water, mixing with fresh sediments, and allowing the sediments and water to reach equilibrium through P sorption. Sediment EPC is calculated as the x-intercept of the linear relationship between initial P concentrations and P absorbed by the sediments. However, the x-intercept is an extrapolation past the know data set (i.e., no desorption of P from the sediments is simulated). The purpose of this study was to use aluminum sulfate (alum) to decrease ambient P concentrations and encourage P desorption from the sediments, and then to compare EPC estimations with and without the inclusion of alum treatments. The results from this study found optimal alum dosages to be between 5 and 25 mg L-1 to provide a range of P removal for the EPC experiments. Above 25 mg L-1, stream water pH began to decrease. The only other notable changes to water chemistry after alum treatments were increases in sulfate (as expected) and residual concentrations of aluminum in some treatments. However, EPC estimations were not significantly different between traditional calculation methods and the inclusion of P desorption data points. These results indicate current methods for EPC estimations are acceptable and spending extra time and money in simulating desorption of P from the sediments is not necessary.

78 Impacts of Land Use and Management Changes on Total Nitrogen Yields and Loads in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Matthew Miller, USGS

  • Abstract

    Impacts of Land Use and Management Changes on Total Nitrogen Yields and Loads in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
    Matthew P. Miller1, Paul D. Capel2, and Ana María García3
    1USGS, Salt Lake City, Utah; 2USGS, Minneapolis, Minnesota; 3USGS, Raleigh, North Carolina

    In response to concerns regarding the health of streams and receiving waters in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the United States Environmental Protection Agency established a total maximum daily load for nitrogen in the watershed that represents a 25% reduction in load from 2009 levels, by 2025. The response of total nitrogen (TN) yields and loads to sixteen different land-use change and management scenarios in the Chesapeake Bay watershed was estimated using a calibrated Spatially Referenced Regression on Watershed Attributes (SPARROW) model. The largest decreases in predicted TN yields were associated with land-use changes from agricultural land receiving fertilizer application to undeveloped or urban land. Assuming a 50% conversion of agricultural land area to undeveloped (e.g., USDA Conservation Reserve Program) or urban land, TN yield reductions of 47% and 32%, respectively, were predicted. Scenarios where best management practices (BMPs) with an assumed efficiency of 20% were applied to agricultural or urban land resulted in predicted decreases in TN yields of <10%, but more efficient BMPs showed the potential for larger decreases. A Chesapeake-Bay-wide assessment of changes in TN loads in response to observed changes in land use over a 20-year period indicated that management of a small number of catchments may be effective for reducing watershed-scale TN loads. This study demonstrates how a calibrated watershed model can be used as a management tool to predict the impacts of land-use change and management practices on in-stream TN conditions.

79 The Importance of Partnerships in Documenting Improvements in Water Quality in Agriculture, Teri Nehls, Arkansas – USDA

  • Abstract

    The Importance of Partnerships in Documenting Improvements in Water Quality in Agriculture
    Teri Nehls
    US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, Little Rock, Arkansas

    Early on Arkansas organizations including federal and state government agencies, universities and research institutions, state and local conservation districts, and non-profit groups recognized the strength and benefit of establishing and maintaining strong partnership relationship. While each organization has its own mission, it is their diversity that compliments and adds strength to the partnership. A common goal is putting great importance on conservation and improving or reducing our impacts to natural resources and people. Each partner supports each other whether it be through financial assistance, technical expertise, labor, or other means.

    Arkansas agriculture is uniquely diverse. Cropland includes specialty crops and row crops such as soybeans and corn but then there is also cotton and rice in the rotation, which are unique to only a handful of states. Additionally, Arkansas has a very large number of historically underserved agricultural producers. An extensive river-stream-tributary water system exists in Arkansas that eventually feeds into the Mississippi River that shortly thereafter enters the Gulf of Mexico. Continued presence and concern regarding the state of the Gulf of Mexico along with the diverse agriculture in Arkansas has made it vital to continue to maintain the strong partnerships.

    Arkansas has been a leader in conservation and partnership programs. The state has the most Mississippi River Basin Initiative areas, the most edge of field monitoring, is one of the top states in acreage of Wetland Reserve Program acres and continues to be competitive regarding Conservation Innovation Grants. Although Arkansas has unique characteristics, it is our past and current successes and experiences that can be modeled along with our partnership development principles. These can be applied in other states to increase the extent of successful conservation.

80 Edge of Field Runoff Analysis of Land Conservation Practices in Northeast Texas, Edward Rhodes, Texas A&M College, of Agriculture & Life Sciences

  • Abstract

    Edge of Field Runoff Analysis of Land Conservation Practices in Northeast Texas
    Edward C Rhodes1, Lucas Gregory1, Kevin Wagner2, and Stephanie deVilleneuve1
    1Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station, Texas; 2Oklahoma Water Resources Center, Stillwater, Oklahoma

    Lake of the Pines in northeast Texas is on the state 303(d) impairment list as a result of low levels of dissolved oxygen. It is believed that this impairment is mainly attributable to increased nutrient loading over time within the watershed. Runoff from improperly implemented land management practices can negatively affect water quality in downstream resources by adding nutrients, bacteria and suspended solids to the waterbody. In this project, best management practices (BMPs) from the USDA National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) were monitored via edge-of-field sampling to observe their potential effects on runoff water quality. Eight sites were monitored (4 field, 4 farm); 6 of which were part of the NWQI implementation program, while 2 sites (1 field, 1 farm) were used as controls. BMP practices included prescribed grazing, nutrient management, waste application, cover crops, and silvicultural plantings. Control practices included continuous grazing and natural forest revegetation. Runoff volume and flow-weighted water quality data were collected after rain events from February 2016 to January 2018 at the edge of each site by automated samplers. Samples were analyzed for E. coli, nitrate-nitrite nitrogen (NNN), Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN), total phosphorous (P), ortho-phosphate phosphorous (OP), and total suspended solids (TSS). Results showed no significant differences in nutrients or E. coli in the forest planting versus the natural revegetation control (p > 0.05). However, total runoff volume, NNN, TSS, and E. coli were significantly greater in the continuously grazed control site verses the prescribed grazing sites (p < 0.05). Data suggests that grazing BMPs can be a useful tool in water quality management planning. Silvicultural BMPs may take more time to establish before any differences are detectable and should warrant further investigation.

81 Beavers in an Urban Environment: Results From a Three-Year Study in the Tualatin River Basin, Oregon, Casie Smith, USGS

  • Abstract

    Beavers in an Urban Environment: Results From a Three-Year Study in the Tualatin River Basin, Oregon
    Casie Smith1, James White2, Micelis Doyle2, Erin Poor2, Alex Costello3, Krista Jones2, and Stewart Rounds2
    1US Geological Survey, Bend, Oregon; 2US Geological Survey, Portland, Oregon; 3Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

    Beavers are increasingly recognized for their role in stream and floodplain habitat restoration. Numerous studies in rural and mountainous settings demonstrate that beaver activity can lead to sediment trapping, channel aggradation, increased habitat diversity, and other responses. Beaver activity is hypothesized to have similar effects in low-gradient urban streams where channels are incised, predominantly fine-grained, subject to flashy streamflow, and have minimal habitat diversity. However, few studies exist on the potential distribution and associated effects of beavers and their dams and ponds in urban streams. Water and resource managers are interested in the positive and negative ways that beavers and their dams and ponds might alter the hydrology and water quality of urban streams.

    This study, conducted in collaboration with Clean Water Services, aimed to estimate beaver dam distributions and quantify the effects that beavers have on hydrology, water quality, and geomorphology in urban streams of the Tualatin River basin on the west side of the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. Modifying and applying the Beaver Restoration Analysis Tool showed good agreement with beaver-dam inventory data and revealed that a lack of appropriate vegetation is a key factor limiting beaver colonization in low-gradient streams in the basin. Continuous water-quality monitors documented how beaver ponds warmed water temperatures through increased exposure to solar radiation, but that water temperatures cooled downstream of beaver-affected reaches when the stream returned to a shaded, confined channel. The study revealed that large amounts of sediment were trapped in beaver ponds during storm events and deposited on the floodplain. Portions of the reaches had low dissolved-oxygen concentrations for prolonged periods. However, measurements showed substantial spatial and temporal variation of water temperature and dissolved oxygen in ponded areas, which may provide habitat for a wide range of species.

    Beavers and their dams create complex systems that may aid and challenge resource managers. Study results have contributed to an understanding of new insights and tools to help water managers meet their stormwater management requirements and assess how beavers might be used as part of an integrated approach to urban stream restoration.

82 Water Quality Status and Trends in Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries in 1985–2016: Temporal and Spatial Patterns Uncovered Through Criteria Attainment Assessments, Peter Tango, Chesapeake Bay Program

  • Abstract

    Water Quality Status and Trends in Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries in 1985–2016: Temporal and Spatial Patterns Uncovered Through Criteria Attainment Assessments
    Qian Zhang1, Peter J. Tango2, Rebecca R. Murphy1, Melinda K. Forsyth3, Richard Tian1, Jennifer Keisman4, and Emily M. Trentacoste5
    1University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science / US Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, Maryland; 2US Geological Survey / US Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, Maryland; 3University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons, Maryland; 4US Geological Survey, MD-DE-DC Water Science Center, Catonsville, Maryland; 5US Environmental Protection Agency, Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, Maryland

    To protect the aquatic living resources of Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership has developed guidance for states’ water quality standards, which include ambient water quality criteria to protect designated uses (DUs), and associated assessment procedures for dissolved oxygen (DO), water clarity/underwater bay grasses, and chlorophyll a. For measuring progress toward meeting the respective states’ water quality standards, a multimetric attainment indicator approach was developed to estimate combined standards attainment. We applied this assessment approach to three decades of monitoring data of DO, water clarity/underwater bay grasses, and chlorophyll a data on annually updated moving 3-year periods to track the progress in all 92 management segments of tidal waters in Chesapeake Bay. In 2014–2016, 40% of tidal water segment-DU-criterion combinations in the Bay are estimated to meet thresholds for attainment of their water quality criteria. This index score marks the best 3-year status in the entire record. Over the record (1985–2016), the indicator exhibited a positive and statistically significant trend (p < 0.05), indicating that the Bay has been recovering since 1985. This improvement was statistically linked to total nitrogen, indicating responsiveness of attainment status to the reduction of nutrient load through various management actions since at least the 1980s. Patterns of attainment of individual DUs are variable, but improvements in open water DO, deep channel DO, and water clarity/SAV have combined to drive the improvement in the Baywide indicator in 2014–2016 relative to its long-term median. In subsequent efforts, we introduced an extension of the existing criterion assessment framework to quantify the amount of impairment shown by space-time exceedance of DO criterion. The results allow us to understand the status of and trends in DO attainment within each designated use, salinity zone, and tidal systems as well as the linkage to long-term changes in nutrient input to these systems. Such insights are critical to the management and research community for understanding the dynamics of the Bay ecosystem and for further assessing the effectiveness of management initiatives aimed toward the Bay restoration.

83 Nonpoint Source Monitoring – Lessons and Applications, Megan Wiitala, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Nonpoint Source Monitoring – Lessons and Applications
    Cyd Curtis and Meg Wiitala
    US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington, District of Columbia

    Monitoring is an integral element of statewide and watershed scale nonpoint source program management, and particularly important in assessment of water quality impairments. Over the years, the national Nonpoint Source Monitoring Program (NNPSMP) has provided science and technical materials to local and statewide programs and a venue for technical transfer.

    This presentation will highlight the tools that the NPS Monitoring program has developed and provide an overview of the “pocket guide” approach to navigate the abundance of monitoring resources. This pocket guide tour will highlight the technical resources available for use in monitoring plans and demonstrate an innovative approach to sharing technical information and training materials. States and other partners that have participated in long term monitoring will be invited to comment on how this information influenced their nonpoint source monitoring program.

    Resource tour will include the following:

    • Technical Lessons Learned: a compilation of outcomes from the 28 National NPS Monitoring Projects that occurred in watersheds across the US from 1991–2005.
    • The Monitoring Guidebook (“Monitoring and Evaluating Nonpoint Source Watershed Projects, 2016”): a rich resource of the latest literature and guidelines on monitoring NPS projects and includes valuable practice problems sets to aid in learning.
    • Technotes of the National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Program: an in-depth guidance on topics such as monitoring plan design for minimum detectable change, photo point monitoring, data collection, implementation of pollution control technologies, as well as case studies that illustrate principles in action, in the form of 17 technical memos.


Monitoring and Assessment to Protect Human and Ecosystem Health

84 Glyphosate is Pervasive in US Streams and Rivers, Laura Medalie, USGS

  • Abstract

    Glyphosate is Pervasive in US Streams and Rivers

    Laura Medalie1, Edward Stets2, and Wesley Stone3
    1US Geological Survey, Montpelier, Vermont; 2US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 3US Geological Survey, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) concentrations in streams have been measured consistently at 86 sites in the US Geological Survey National Water Quality Network since 2014. Glyphosate is an herbicide used extensively on genetically altered crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat; on fallow land pre- and post-harvest applications; as well as for nonagricultural weed control for landscaping and rights-of-way. The ubiquitous use of glyphosate extends glyphosate detections in streams beyond the growing season in some areas. Detection frequencies of glyphosate and AMPA in the growing and nongrowing seasons, defined individually for sites based on average first and last frost dates in the watershed, were above 50 percent and were generally higher during the growing than nongrowing season. In all regions of the country except the Southwest (the Southwest includes most of Texas; California is in the Pacific region), concentrations of glyphosate and AMPA in streams increase in growing and nongrowing seasons and with increasing percentages of row crops in the watershed. Sites with small percentages of row crops (< 20 percent), however, do not necessarily have smaller relative concentrations; these areas might not have a seasonal cropping system (for example, multiple crops might be grown throughout the year) or they might have substantial nonagricultural glyphosate use. Regression analysis indicated that glyphosate use, season, region, land use, and crops in corn are all potentially important factors in understanding glyphosate and AMPA concentrations in streams. Sites in the Midwest have consistently high concentrations of both compounds, a couple of sites in the Pacific and Southwest regions also have high concentrations, and sites in the East have the lowest concentrations compared to other regions. Beginning with drainage areas of about 1 × 104 square kilometers, concentrations of glyphosate decrease with increases in drainage areas, perhaps degrading to AMPA, for which concentrations have no relation to basin size.

85 Seasonal Methylmercury Export From the Hells Canyon Reservoir Complex, Idaho and Oregon, USA, Austin Baldwin, USGS

  • Abstract

    Seasonal Methylmercury Export From the Hells Canyon Reservoir Complex, Idaho and Oregon, USA
    Austin Baldwin1, Gregory Clark1, Jesse Naymik2, Ralph Myers2, Charles Hoovestol2, Brett Poulin3, Mark Marvin-DiPasquale4, Collin Eagles-Smith5, and David Krabbenhoft6
    1US Geological Survey, Boise, Idaho; 2Idaho Power Company, Boise, Idaho; 3US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado; 4US Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California; 5US Geological Survey, Corvallis, Oregon; 6US Geological Survey, Madison, Wisconsin

    Anoxia in the hypolimnion of lakes and reservoirs can promote the conversion of mercury (Hg) to the more toxic methylmercury (MeHg) form. In the 200 km Hells Canyon Reach of the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon border, three deep (up to 90 m) reservoirs seasonally stratify for months at a time, creating anoxic conditions that promote MeHg production in the hypolimnion. As a result, both Idaho and Oregon have listed this reach of the Snake River as impaired for Hg, with fish-tissue samples regularly exceeding Idaho’s human health fish tissue criterion of 0.3 mg/kg wet weight.

    In 2014, the US Geological Survey and Idaho Power Company initiated a collaborative investigation of Hg cycling and fate in the Hells Canyon reach. Primary research questions for this project include understanding the mechanisms promoting MeHg production in the hypolimnion, and the fate of the MeHg accumulated in the hypolimnion subsequent to reservoir destratification and mixing. To help answer these questions, the mass loadings of Hg and MeHg into, within, and out of the Hells Canyon complex of reservoirs were estimated using discrete water-quality data and streamflow into and out of each reservoir.

    Water samples were collected biweekly from four reservoir inflow/outflow locations between 2014 and 2017 and were analyzed for dissolved and particulate Hg and MeHg. Regression models were developed to relate instantaneous Hg and MeHg loads to daily streamflow and seasonal variables. Loads were computed at various time steps over the sampling period to estimate the mass balance for each reservoir in the Hells Canyon Complex and for the complex as a whole. Results indicate that Hg inflow is ~2.9× greater than outflow, and MeHg inflow is ~1.6× greater than outflow, despite clear seasonal production and export of dissolved MeHg from the reservoir complex. Thus, overall, the reservoirs act as Hg and MeHg sinks. Findings from this study are intended to help manage the Hells Canyon Complex to minimize biological uptake and downstream export of Hg and MeHg.

86 Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Faces Uncertain Future, Stacey Banks, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Faces Uncertain Future
    Stacey Banks1, Danielle Tesch2, Khadija Walker1, Jayne Lilienfeld-Jones1, and Kathlene Butler3
    1US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Chicago, Illinois; 2US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 3US Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Atlanta, Georgia

    This poster discusses the evolution of the national beach monitoring and notification program and is based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) 2018 performance audit of this program (Report No. 18-P-0071). Each year, Americans take millions of trips to coastal area and spend billions of dollars. Coastal counties generated an estimated $6 trillion toward the nation’s gross domestic product and 47 million jobs in 2010. Serious risks to the health of recreational swimmers, as well as serious economic consequences, can occur from sewer overflow runoff into coastal waters; water treatment plant malfunctions, animals, and more. Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000 (BEACH Act of 2000) to improve quality of coastal recreation waters and for other purposes, such as protecting public health, through a grants program administrated by the EPA. Eighteen years after the BEACH Act of 2000, 35 states and territories and 3 tribes have programs that monitor recreation waters for elevated bacteria levels and notify the public when levels are beyond established thresholds to protect human health. The EPA has created and revised recreation water quality criteria, researched additional analytical methods, created a national database accessible to the public, and reports to Congress about progress and improvements needed in the program. The future of this program is less certain, as the EPA has not requested funding for this grant program since 2012, yet Congress continues to fund it and has even introduced bills that could expand the scope of work grantees can do with the grants. Additionally, the EPA no longer tracks the two performance measures associated with the grant program. Despite the uncertainty, the program continues to evolve by developing new analytical methods, such as rapid testing and predictive modeling.

87 Temporal Variability of Nutrients and Agrichemicals in Waterways Across Illinois, Alycia Bean, University of Idaho

  • Abstract

    Temporal Variability of Nutrients and Agrichemicals in Waterways Across Illinois
    Alycia Bean1, Jonathan Ali2, Brandon Noble2, Shannon Bartelt-Hunt2, Sarah Olson3, and Alan Kolok1
    1Idaho Water Resources Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho; 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska; 3Water Resources Program, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

    The objective of this research was to estimate the temporal variability of nutrients, agrichemicals, and turbidity in waterways across Illinois using data collected by citizen scientists. Samples were collected at 92 locations, with at least one sample being collected on each sampling day in 28 of the 33 watersheds within the state. The project spanned a five-week period beginning on April 19 and ending on May 17, 2017. Citizen scientists, including members of the Illinois River Watch program along with other avid environmental enthusiasts conducted tests at each site. Prior to collection of the field data, a series of focus groups were assembled to evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of the water quality data obtained from the citizen scientists. This evaluation found that user experience, namely prior STEM education, had a significant impact on the accuracy of citizen science generated water quality data. Both phosphate and nitrate levels increased throughout the Spring although there were no concomitant changes in turbidity. Atrazine rarely exceeded 3 ppb, the US EPA drinking water standard, with the exception of May 3, when 22% of samples exceeded this threshold.

88 Assessing Spatial Differences in Uranium Concentrations in Groundwater Along the Horn Creek Drainage in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Kimberly Beisner, USGS

  • Abstract

    Assessing Spatial Differences in Uranium Concentrations in Groundwater Along the Horn Creek Drainage in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
    Kimberly R. Beisner1 and Fred D. Tillman2
    1US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 2US Geological Survey, Tucson, Arizona

    Changes in the geochemistry of groundwater interacting with mined and unmined uranium breccia pipes in the Grand Canyon region of the southwestern United States is not well understood. The Horn Creek drainage in Grand Canyon National Park is located near the Orphan Mine, the first mined breccia pipe uranium deposit in the area, which produced uranium from 1953 to 1972 and is currently in the process of reclamation. Groundwater in the headwaters of this drainage has historically been reported to have elevated uranium concentration, while waters a half kilometer lower in the drainage have exhibited lower uranium concentration. In 2018, groundwater was sampled by USGS in the upper reaches of Horn Creek drainage at the spring source and from pools in the alluvium a half kilometer lower in the drainage. Water-quality parameters, major ion/trace element concentration, stable isotopes of water, uranium isotopes, strontium isotopes, and tritium activity were determined on each sample. Groundwater in the upper reaches of the drainage had elevated uranium concentration (257 µg/L) while groundwater emerging from the alluvium lower in the drainage had lower uranium concentration and decreased from 23 to 7.6 µg/L over a 20 m distance. Groundwater chemistry from Horn Creek drainage was compared with groundwater samples collected from springs in drainage basins surrounding Horn Creek. Laboratory tests interacting mine waste leachate with stratigraphic units of the Grand Canyon were conducted to determine the potential contribution of uranium and other trace elements from mining material as it moves through the stratigraphic units. Investigation of multiple isotopic tracers in groundwater will be used to better understand the processes affecting uranium concentrations as groundwater flows downgradient through the alluvial aquifer within the Horn Creek drainage as well as potential mixing with other sources of groundwater.

89 Hormones and Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater Used for Public and Domestic Supply Across the United States, Laura Bexfield, USGS

  • Abstract

    Hormones and Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater Used for Public and Domestic Supply Across the United States
    Laura M. Bexfield1, Patricia L. Toccalino2, Kenneth Belitz3, William T. Foreman4, and Edward T. Furlong4
    1US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 2US Geological Survey, Sacramento, California; 3US Geological Survey, Northborough, Massachusetts; 4US Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado

    Previous studies have shown that some hormones and pharmaceuticals are mobile and persistent enough to occur in groundwater used for drinking water, posing a potential threat to human health, such as through endocrine disruption or antibiotic resistance. The US Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project analyzed samples from 1,091 groundwater sites across the United States for 21 hormones and 103 pharmaceuticals. Our objectives were to systematically characterize the occurrence of these organic wastewater compounds in aquifers used for drinking-water supply and to examine factors contributing to their presence. Preliminary results indicate that at least one hormone or pharmaceutical compound was detected at 6.9% of 844 sites representing the resource used for public supply across the entirety of 15 Principal Aquifers. Over subareas of 9 Principal Aquifers, at least one compound was detected at 14.2% of 247 sites representing the resource used for domestic supply. Of the 34 detected compounds, 4 were hormones and 30 were pharmaceuticals. The 6 hormone or pharmaceutical compounds detected at more than 0.5% of sites were: 1 plastics component (bisphenol A), 4 pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, methotrexate, sulfamethoxazole, and meprobamate), and the caffeine degradate 1,7-dimethylxanthine. Hormone and pharmaceutical detections ranged in concentration from 1.7 to 677 ng/L. Concentrations were compared to human-health benchmarks, available for 18 of the 34 detected compounds, to provide context. All concentrations were less than benchmarks, except for a single hydrocortisone detection at one site. Detections were most common in shallower wells with a component of modern (post-1950) recharge, particularly in crystalline-rock and mixed land-use settings. These results provide new information that can inform priorities for monitoring, research, and regulatory decision making regarding these compounds in drinking-water sources.

90 Mixed-Organic/Inorganic-Chemical Exposure in USA Point-of-Use Drinking Water, Paul Bradley, USGS

  • Abstract

    Mixed-Organic/Inorganic-Chemical Exposure in USA Point-of-Use Drinking Water
    Paul Bradley1, Michael Focazio2, Dana Kolpin3, Kristin Romanok4, and Kelly Smalling4
    1US Geological Survey, Columbia, South Carolina; 2US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; 3US Geological Survey, Iowa City, Iowa; 4US Geological Survey, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

    Drinking-water from 25 sites (13 home, 12 workplace) in 11 US states was assessed at the point of use (tapwater) for 482 organics and 19 inorganics, with 6 home samples from untreated, self-supply. Seventy-one organics were detected in at least one tapwater sample, some exceeding drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level Goals. Two inorganics were frequently detected at concentrations exceeding drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level Goals. A multiple lines of evidence approach was used to evaluate potential human-health concerns of detected tapwater chemicals. These results document the widespread potential in the US for human exposure to a variety of previously uncharacterized contaminant mixtures in tapwater.

91 A Gift for Streams and Rivers – More Education and Inspiration for the Oklahoma Blue Thumb Volunteers, Cheryl Cheadle, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

  • Abstract

    A Gift for Streams and Rivers – More Education and Inspiration for the Oklahoma Blue Thumb Volunteers
    Cheryl Cheadle
    Blue Thumb – Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    The Oklahoma Blue Thumb water quality education program is in its 25th year. The program is known for offering citizens from middle school age and up the chance to participate in stream and river protection. Blue Thumb is best known for its stream monitoring volunteers, but recent changes to the program have welcomed another slice of the population: Those who prefer NOT to regularly test water but who are inspired to teach about protecting water resources.

    This has left the Blue Thumb Program with the need to create a system that will make the best use of not only the stream monitoring volunteers, who generate quality data every month, but also the new education volunteers. Blue Thumb staff members found agreement from supervisors that it was time to bring aboard a volunteer coordinator.

    The ultimate goal of this position is to make documentable stream improvement happen. Blue Thumb has spent 25 years collecting data and awakening people to their local streams and rivers and the watersheds that hold them. Blue Thumb is now poised to rocket volunteers into an atmosphere of productivity that will yield results well beyond numbers of volunteer hours reported and number of streams being monitored.

    In the past the program director and all staff members shared the job of volunteer management. There is a basic goal being strived for with the creation of this position: Make documentable stream improvement take place. The designated volunteer coordinator will be able to spend more time:

    • Building a top tier of educators who can take on much of the work for which Blue Thumb staff members are requested (staffing exhibits, demonstrating pollution prevention, etc.)
    • Expanding the atmosphere of unity within the program that reflects increased volunteer duties and encourages comradery and
    • Tracking education efforts in conjunction with data results.

    This presentation will not be a review of a position description but will instead cover the need for effective volunteers, recent data and observations on environmental attitudes, and the approaches being taken to ice the Blue Thumb cake with this new layer of education volunteers.

92 Source Water Assessment Developments and What’s New at The Water Research Foundation, Michael Dirks, The Water Research Foundation

  • Abstract

    Source Water Assessment Developments and What’s New at the Water Research Foundation
    Michael Dirks
    The Water Research Foundation, Denver, Colorado

    The Water Research Foundation (WRF) recently continues to move into a unified direction for safe drinking water and clean water research needs providing relevant and impactful research to the water sector. As the industry looks to the future for One Water solutions, WRF’s dynamic research repertoire evolves to meet the changing needs of our utility subscribers. This presentation will highlight published resources in source water protection, assessment and risk management frameworks research. as describe relevant research programming and opportunities for the National Water Quality Monitoring Council community to access ongoing research from the utility perspective.

    In particular, the “Evaluation of Risk Management Frameworks and Tools and their Application for Managing Source Water Risks in the US (#4748)” will be described and summarized as an example of collaborative, utility research planning. This presentation will provide a snapshot of resources from the project with details on how to access the information.

    To address future research needs, it will be important to share the integrated water management developments for strategic research and the source water protection knowledge base from WRF.

93 Comparison of Sampling and Analytical Methods Used in Studies of Methane in Groundwater in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Joseph Duris, USGS

  • Abstract

    Comparison of Sampling and Analytical Methods Used in Studies of Methane in Groundwater in Northeastern Pennsylvania
    Joseph Duris and Lee Eicholtz
    US Geological Survey PAWSC, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

    The US Geological Survey (USGS) Pennsylvania Water Science Center (PAWSC) has increased efforts to collect methane and other groundwater-chemistry data in the area of natural-gas development from the Marcellus Shale. Since 2007, 10 groundwater studies, that included analysis of dissolved methane, have been conducted. Seven of the ten studies were baseline groundwater assessments in Pike, Wayne, Sullivan, Lycoming, Potter, Clinton, and Bradford counties. Water samples from domestic-supply wells were analyzed for physical and chemical characteristics including nutrients, major ions, metals, and trace elements, volatile organic compounds, gross alpha and beta particle activity, uranium, and dissolved gases including radon-222 and methane. Dissolved methane data in groundwater is especially important to these efforts because 1) the occurrence and distribution of methane was poorly understood before these and other recent studies, and 2) there has been heightened concern that unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development could release deep thermogenic methane into shallow groundwater. While methane analysis is a key aspect of recent monitoring and groundwater characterization, no consensus method exists for sampling and analysis. This has led to variation in sample bottles, sampling tubing, bottle filling methods, sample preservation and analytical differences. To assess variation introduced by sampling and analytical variability, the PAWSC re-sampled a subset of 16 previously-sampled wells having methane that spanned four orders of magnitude of methane concentration. Samples from each well were collected using 5 different sampling methods and were analyzed, in duplicate, at 5 laboratories used in the recent groundwater-quality studies. Preliminary analysis indicates there is generally good agreement between replicates processed by the same lab, and that percent deviation in reported methane concentrations is greatest near the method reporting limits (concentration from 0.01–0.09 mg/L) and at concentrations greater than10 mg/L. The well water with the largest mean concentration (60 mg/L) also had the most deviation with a range of methane concentrations from 3mg/L to 150 mg/L. The methods and results of the methane comparisons study will be described, and the implications of findings discussed.

94 Integrating Potential Wetland Restoration Site Identification Into Watershed Planning for Water Quality Improvement, Dan Dvorett, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

  • Abstract

    Integrating Potential Wetland Restoration Site Identification Into Watershed Planning for Water Quality Improvement
    Dan Dvorett, Brooks Tramell, Sarah Gallaway
    Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    As wetlands continue to be degraded and removed from the landscape, wetland restoration is critical to restore the many functions wetlands provide, including their ability to store and remove contaminants. Identifying restoration sites with a high potential for success to improve water quality can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Oklahoma Conservation Commission has developed a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) protocol to identify potential historic wetlands for restoration. Restoration sites are primarily identified based on the presence of hydric soils, topography, and potential to re-establish hydrology. Sites are prioritized based on their potential to restore downstream water quality, by integrating wetland size, watershed area, and surrounding land-use into a ranking system. To date this protocol has been applied in 8 watersheds in Oklahoma, with statewide application set for 2019. Field verification has validated that this approach can be useful as a restoration screening tool. In order to promote restoration at locations with high potential to improve water quality, the priority sites identified are entered into a statewide database of potential restoration opportunities. This database, or Wetland Registry, connects parties in need of restoration sites with landowners interested in restoration opportunities. The Wetland Registry can be searched using fillable forms available at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission website (

95 The Dragonfly Mercury Project: Biosentinel Mercury Concentrations and Landscape Drivers Across US National Parks, Colleen Flanagan Pritz, National Park Service

  • Abstract

    The Dragonfly Mercury Project: Biosentinel Mercury Concentrations and Landscape Drivers Across US National Parks
    Colleen Flanagan Pritz1, Sarah Nelson2, Collin Eagles-­Smith3, James Willacker3, and Megan Hess4
    1National Park Service Air Resources Division, Lakewood, Colorado; 2School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, Maine; 3US Geological Survey Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, Oregon; 4Program in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

    The Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP) is a national scale study tying research on mercury (Hg) pollution risks to protected lands with citizen engagement and education. The program purpose is to: (1) Increase the understanding of Hg contamination in national parks across the US using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels; (2) Engage citizen scientists in the collection of dragonfly larvae; and (3) Inform National Park Service (NPS) policy and management decisions. Dragonfly nymphs are useful biosentinels for Hg spatial patterns because they inhabit many freshwater habitats, are relatively sedentary, and as predators, contain almost all of their Hg as the toxic methylmercury (MeHg). The DMP began in 2011 and represents samples collected across over 100 diverse national parks. As of 2017, a total of 127 freshwater lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams, and river sites have been sampled across 34 national parks. Preliminary results indicate that the mean (± SE) THg concentration in dragonfly nymphs was 141.1 ± 2.5 ppb dry weight (dw). We observed 76-fold variation between the sites with the greatest (> 1000 ppb, dw) and least (~20 ppb, dw) THg concentrations across parks, and up to 44-fold variation among sites within a single park. These preliminary findings highlight the importance of spatial variability at the scale of individual water bodies. By linking dragonfly THg concentrations with data on water and sediment Hg, water chemistry, and watershed characteristics, the DMP will provide valuable insights into the drivers of, and potential vulnerability to, MeHg bioaccumulation in the NPS’s aquatic resources. Early analyses suggest that dragonfly larvae with Hg concentrations less than about 315 ppb, dw are likely to be in the lowest risk category. While mercury risk is relatively low among parks, mercury hotspots exist in particular sites within parks. The DMP sparks public interest in biodiversity and participatory science, as well as communicating key messages about air quality and mercury risk. Since 2009, over 3,705 citizens have participated in the project, providing the scientist team with 8,769 dragonfly samples and making the research possible across a broad spatial scale.

96 Arsenic Levels of San Gabriel Ground and Surface Waters, Bryan Giberson, Cal Poly Pomona

  • Abstract

    Arsenic Levels of San Gabriel Ground and Surface Waters
    Bryan Giberson and Stephen Osborn
    Cal Poly, Pomona, California

    Arsenic, a toxic element common in the Earth’s crust, is found in varying concentrations throughout soil and water. Geogenic (naturally occurring) arsenic contamination of drinking water has been found to correlate with both oxidative dissolution of sulfide minerals and reductive dissolution of iron oxyhydroxides to which it is bound. Extensively studied contamination as high as hundreds of μg of arsenic per liter of groundwater in Bangladesh has been associated with redox conditions which periodically vary with flood and dry seasons. Periodic wet and dry seasons also characterize southern California; arsenic concentrations in excess of the 10 μg per liter EPA drinking water standard have been found in water samples from the San Gabriel Mountains watershed, an area which supplies one third of the drinking water for Los Angeles. We collected water samples at locations (n = 12) of perennial springs and streams in the San Gabriel Mountains over the course of months, measuring arsenic concentrations during both wet and dry seasons.

97 We Are All Downstream: Contaminants of Emerging Concern During De Facto Water Reuse, Susan T. Glassmeyer, USEPA

  • Abstract

    We Are All Downstream: Contaminants of Emerging Concern During De Facto Water Reuse
    Susan T. Glassmeyer1, Edward T. Furlong2, Dana W. Kolpin3, and Marc A. Mills4
    1US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio; 2US Geological Survey, National Water Quality Laboratory, Denver, Colorado; 3US Geological Survey, Central Midwest Water Science Center, Iowa City, Iowa; 4US Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio

    While some communities are exploring direct potable reuse, de facto reuse (DFR) is occurring in many locations across the United States (i.e., unintentional indirect potable reuse from drinking water intakes being downstream of wastewater treatment plant outfalls). DFR may increase the possibility of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) being present in the source water, and potentially the corresponding treated drinking water. We investigated one watershed with a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) upstream of a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) intake. The DFR at the intake was estimated to be 2.6 % during mean stream flow. There were no tributaries between the WWTP outfall and the DWTP intake, allowing for an investigation of fate and transport of CECs without the need to account for additional dilution. Of the 236 chemicals monitored in the study, 140 were detected at least once in the effluent, and 49 were detected at least once in the treated drinking water. Across the three sampling rounds of the study (October 2014, April 2015, and August 2015), 72 chemicals were always detected in the effluent, while only 5 chemicals were always detected in the treated drinking water; four of those five were disinfection by products, and the fifth was sucralose. When the overall concentration patterns were examined, most of the organic chemicals were clearly introduced into the water system through the WWTP effluent. In contrast, inorganic chemicals showed a more mixed source, with some exhibiting a wastewater source while others maintained a nearly constant concentration up- and downstream of the WWTP outfall.

99 Watershed Assessment Modelling to Identify Sources of Nutrient, Sediment and Pathogen Pollution for Strategic Planning in a Coastal Watershed., Meg Harris, Whatcom Conservation District

  • Abstract

    Watershed Assessment Modelling to Identify Sources of Nutrient, Sediment and Pathogen Pollution for Strategic Planning in a Coastal Watershed
    Meg Harris, Nichole Embertson, and Andrew Phay
    Whatcom Conservation District, Lynden, Washington

    Watershed assessments allow land managers to create strategic plans and prioritize funding and technical assistance when resources are limited. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) provides a framework for watershed assessment to support long-term watershed planning and prioritize resources. The Tenmile Watershed located in Whatcom County, Washington was selected as a pilot watershed for the 2017 NWQI assessment. The primary objective of the assessment was to identify critical source areas (CSAs) within the watershed that were most susceptible to nutrient, sediment and pathogen export based on physical (terrain) features and land use. Secondary objectives were to model the effectiveness of conservation practices within the watershed and create an outreach plan for engaging landowners in the watershed improvement process. The NWQI watershed assessment was part of a broader effort to address water quality impairments that threaten the valued recreational uses and shellfish harvest within Whatcom County’s streams and marine waters.

    NOAA’s open-source Nonpoint Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool (OpenNSPECT) was used to model potential water quality CSAs across the landscape. Spatial data representing terrain features, precipitation, and land use cover within the watershed were collected, aggregated and input into the model. The model identified CSAs for N, P, pathogens, and sediment, as well as a combined ranking. OpenNSPECT was then used to model the effects of implementation of different conservation practices on pollutant reduction. The modelling efforts were ultimately used to inform technical recommendations for land managers and outreach strategies for participating partner agencies.

    This presentation will present the results of the watershed assessment model for the Tenmile Watershed and will offer considerations for how watershed assessment modelling could be used to inform watershed planning efforts in any watershed.

100 Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring in Support of Determining Biological Response to Phosphorous Loading in Streams in Connecticut, Brittney Izbicki, USGS

  • Abstract

    Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring in Support of Determining Biological Response to Phosphorous Loading in Streams in Connecticut
    Brittney Izbicki and Jonathon Morrison
    US Geological Survey, East Hartford, Connecticut

    The US Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), implemented a dissolved oxygen monitoring program during the summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017. The study was conducted as a result of the recommendations in the report “Methods to Measure Phosphorus and Make Future Projections” by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in accordance with Connecticut Public Act No. 12-155, An Act Concerning Phosphorus Reduction in State Waters.

    Twelve rivers in Connecticut were selected for the project across a gradient of in-stream phosphorous concentrations. Continuous water quality multiparameter sondes were deployed at each site during the months of June through September to collect continuous dissolved oxygen (DO) along with water temperature, specific conductance, and pH. Phosphorus samples were also taken during the analyzed time periods at selected sites. The data collected by USGS provided information on maximum daily diurnal DO concentrations, some sites exhibited daily diurnal ranges higher than 5 mg/L. Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) and Ecosystem Respiration (ER) values will be computed to assess whole stream metabolism and to examine the differences at each site between the years.

    Regression models will be developed to evaluate and correlate stressor response models using the diurnal ranges in continuous DO data, in-stream metabolism values, and phosphorous concentrations at selected streams.

    The goal of the project is to improve the USGS statewide data collection program for nutrients, by helping to understand the effects of nutrient loading on aquatic biological communities. The State of Connecticut has many rivers with phosphorus loading from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and nonpoint source runoff. Information on diurnal dissolved oxygen concentrations and phosphorous concentrations and loads will help determine appropriate phosphorous reductions required to meet Connecticut water-quality standards for inland non-tidal waters.

101 Bioaccumulation of Selenium and Mercury in Fish Tissues of an Urban Watershed and Reservoir, Denver Colorado, Nathan Jahns, GEI Consultants, Inc.

  • Abstract

    Bioaccumulation of Selenium and Mercury in Fish Tissues of an Urban Watershed and Reservoir, Denver Colorado
    Nathan Jahns, Shai Kamin, and Craig Wolf
    GEI Consultants, Inc., Denver, Colorado

    A portion of the Cherry Creek Watershed (Denver, Colorado) sits on natural deposits of selenium-rich, sub-surface marine shales. Natural weathering results in elevated selenium water and fish tissue concentrations in tributaries to Cherry Creek Reservoir. The watershed also lies in a populated urban area, which contributes to mercury concentrations. Elevated selenium concentrations raise concern for aquatic life use in the Reservoir, while the mercury concentrations raise concern for fish consumption.

    In the Cottonwood and Lone Tree Creek tributaries, 85th percentile selenium concentrations often exceeded the chronic water quality criterion (4.6 µg/L) and selenium geomean whole-body fish tissue samples ranged from 6.3 to 24.6 and 12.6 to 17.5 mg/kg dry weight (dw), respectively, over a multi-year study. Water selenium concentrations differed between sites with elevated selenium typically occurring above shale. While tissue concentrations in these tributaries often exceeded the EPA whole-body tissue criterion of 8.5 mg/kg dw, muscle tissues from Walleye collected from the Reservoir ranged from 2.65 to 6.0 mg/kg dw and were considerably less than the EPA muscle-based tissue criterion (11.3 mg/kg dw). The Reservoir does not overlay shale and shows no reasonable potential to exceed the EPA water quality and fish tissue-based criterion.

    In Cherry Creek, total mercury water concentrations ranged from 0.00065 to 0.00192 µg/L which are below the current water quality standard for Cherry Creek Basin Segment 1 (0.01 µg/L). Mercury fish tissues concentrations ranged from 0.038 to 0.162 mg/kg wet weight (ww) for multiple species. In the Reservoir, concentrations ranged from 0.019 to 0.069 mg/kg ww for Walleye. All concentrations were well below the EPA tissue-based consumption criterion of 0.3 mg/kg ww.

102 Fish Tissue Monitoring Recommendations to Support the Implementation of the EPA’s 2016 304(a) Recommended Freshwater Chronic Aquatic Life Selenium Criterion, Karen Kesler, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Fish Tissue Monitoring Recommendations to Support the Implementation of the EPA’s 2016 304(a) Recommended Freshwater Chronic Aquatic Life Selenium Criterion
    Karen Kesler, Lareina Guenzel, and Julianne McLaughlin
    US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia

    The 2016 304(a) recommended freshwater chronic selenium criterion for aquatic life is composed of four criterion elements, two fish tissue elements (egg-ovary and whole body/muscle) and two water column criterion elements (monthly average exposure for lotic and lentic waters and intermittent exposure). This criterion is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s first tissue-based criterion for the protection of aquatic life. To support the implementation of this criterion, the EPA is developing Technical Support for Fish Tissue Monitoring for Implementation of EPA’s 2016 Selenium Criterion. This document would provide recommendations and considerations for designing a fish tissue monitoring plan for the assessment of the selenium criterion and for the development of site-specific water column criterion elements. It would provide information to help states and authorized tribes decide which fish species it should target for sampling, which type of fish tissue to sample (egg-ovary, whole body, or muscle), how to collect fish samples (individually or as composites), and what to consider when selecting sampling locations. In addition, it would provide considerations for how to utilize existing tissue monitoring programs that are typically designed to assess human health risks. Lastly, this document would present information on analytical chemistry methods and data analysis. One of the recommendations that is unique to this criterion is the recommendation to collect egg-ovary samples for assessments. While states and authorized tribes have considerable discretion when selecting the fish tissue type to be used in their sampling protocols; EPA recommends sampling egg-ovary for assessment of the selenium criterion, if possible, and this document would provide monitoring considerations specific to egg-ovary sampling. This document is being developed in tandem with three other documents that address recommendations for the implementation of the selenium criterion, including for criterion adoption, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, and Clean Water Act sections 303(d) and 305(b) assessments, listings, and total maximum daily loads.

    The views expressed in this abstract are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

103 Potential Drivers of Salinity Trends in Rivers and Streams of the US: 1992–2012, Gretchen Oelsner, USGS

  • Abstract

    Potential Drivers of Salinity Trends in Rivers and Streams of the US: 1992–2012
    Gretchen Oelsner
    New Mexico Water Science Center, US Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Excessive salinity in stream water can have adverse effects on human health and the environment, increase the costs of water treatment for human consumption, and damage water infrastructure, ultimately limiting potential water uses. There are many factors that contribute to the total loading of dissolved inorganic salts (salinity) to rivers and streams including basin geology, evaporation, precipitation, irrigation, wastewater, atmospheric deposition, and road salt usage. While salinity contributions from geologic sources are relatively constant, other sources vary over time and exhibit seasonal patterns. Natural variability in climate and variable rates of chemical weathering influence salinity. However, increases in salinity are often driven by anthropogenic inputs and accelerated weathering of geologic sources. Once thought to be a problem restricted to arid regions, salinization of freshwater is now recognized as a global environmental concern. Previous studies have shown that salinity is increasing rapidly in urban and developed areas and to a lesser extent, in agricultural landscapes. Furthermore, salinity has decreased in some arid Western watersheds. To explore major drivers of salinity changes in rivers and streams, structural equation modeling was used to test direct and indirect effects of natural and anthropogenic changes in the watershed on trends in salinity loads across the conterminous United States. Changes in salinity were explored over a 20-year period (1992–2012). Using a structural equation model to compare the numerous factors contributing to salinity changes across land use types and geographic regions will provide a better understanding of the major drivers of changes in salinity.

104 Lessons Learned:  USGS Response to Epic Flooding in the Columbia and Mississippi River Basins, Stanley Skrobialowski, USGS

  • Abstract

    Lessons Learned: USGS Response to Epic Flooding in the Columbia and Mississippi River Basins
    Stanley Skrobialowski1 and Mark Landers2
    1US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; 2US Geological Survey, Norcross, Georgia

    Epic flooding in the Mississippi and Columbia River basins in 2011 signaled the need for the US Geological Survey (USGS) to train and equip field sample crews to safely collect water-quality samples and data. As a result of the flooding, the USGS Office of Water Quality commissioned the fabrication of 3 additional D-99 collapsible bag samplers for water and suspended sediment and strategically positioned them for deployment on short notice. These heavy, large-volume, collapsible-bag isokinetic samplers (the D-99 and D-96) are required to properly collect a variety of water-quality samples in streams and rivers where depths commonly exceed 15 feet such as some in the USGS National Fixed Site Network and Cooperative Program. USGS Water Science Centers contribute substantially toward training personnel and acquiring infrastructure in order for field sample crews to properly and safely deploy these samplers. Field crews must be familiar with a combination and variety of boats, vehicles, booms, reels, cranes and hydrologic conditions to safely deploy and recover the samplers. The isokinetic performance of bag samplers varies according to stream velocity, depth, and stream temperature and, therefore, the performance must be tested and documented before each sample is collected. This event precipitated a response to monitor for a potential Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Pontchartrain.

105 Evaluating Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Alternatives: Fish Plug Samples Versus Homogenized Whole Fillets, Leanne Stahl, USEPA and Blaine Snyder, Tetra Tech, Inc.

  • Abstract

    Evaluating Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Alternatives: Fish Plug Samples Versus Homogenized Whole Fillets
    Leanne Stahl1, Blaine Snyder2, Harry McCarty3, Tara Cohen2, and John Healey1
    1US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, District of Columbia; 2Tetra Tech, Owings Mills, Maryland; 3CSRA, LLC, a General Dynamics Information Technology company, Alexandria, Virginia

    Investigating the bioaccumulation of contaminants in fish continues to be an important area of research necessary for human health protection and risk communication associated with fish consumption. Recently, fish plug (or biopsy punch) sampling is being applied in some fish monitoring programs as a more cost-effective alternative to obtain contaminant data (mercury data in particular) than the routine approach of removing, homogenizing, and analyzing entire fillets. EPA’s Office of Science and Technology within the Office of Water is conducting a Fish Plug Evaluation Study to address the fundamental question of comparability between fish fillet plug sample vs. homogenized whole fillet tissue results for mercury and selenium, i.e., to determine if fillet plugs are a reliable surrogate for traditional whole fillet sampling and analysis. Initiated in June 2017, the study involves collecting and analyzing a total of 1260 samples (900 for mercury and 360 for selenium) from two major waterbody types (three Great Lakes and three mid-Atlantic rivers) and from six target species to thoroughly test the comparability of mercury and selenium results from field-extracted fillet plugs, lab-extracted fillet plugs, and homogenized whole fillets. Study results will be used to determine if fish plug sampling and analysis can be applied as a technically comparable alternative to homogenizing and analyzing whole fillets for mercury or selenium.

106 Exploring the Utility of Monitoring Surface Water for Dissolved Methane in the Marcellus Shale Region of the Susquehanna River Basin, USA, Luanne Steffy, Susquehanna River Basin Commission

  • Abstract

    Exploring the Utility of Monitoring Surface Water for Dissolved Methane in the Marcellus Shale Region of the Susquehanna River Basin, USA
    Luanne Y. Steffy
    Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    Natural gas production from shale formations has increased rapidly in the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB) since 2008 because of technological advances which allow gas extraction through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as the unconventional natural gas (UNG) industry. After ten years of UNG development, there remains a great deal of public concern about the industry’s environmental impacts on potentially adverse impacts to surface and groundwater resources. Of concern is potential groundwater contamination caused by methane migration from improperly cased wells and vertical migration through geologic fractures. The primary focus of this research is validation of a method using stream methane monitoring as a screening tool for potential contamination of water supply in public and private wells. Because methane is an easily volatized gas, its persistent presence in surface water can indicate a groundwater source, which is especially problematic in areas where groundwater is a main source of drinking water for local residents. During 2016–2018, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission completed a research effort in headwater streams to validate a method of methane detection and classification used previously by the U.S. Geological Survey as a potential screening tool for compromised gas well casings. Data showed promising results for consistent detection of dissolved methane in surface water as well as discrimination between biogenic, originating from bacterial sources, and thermogenic, originating from geological features, methane using stable isotope analysis. No thermogenic methane was detected in surface water at reference sites with no UNG wells. However, multiple lines of evidence point to the presence of thermogenic methane in at least two watersheds where UNG well density is high. This method is a fairly inexpensive way to monitor impacts of the UNG industry and provides a relatively rapid tool to screen for potential methane leakage into groundwater and identify areas were further investigation of well casing integrity should occur.

107 An Overview of Oregon Water Science Center Quality Assurance Procedures for Continuous Water Quality Temperature Monitoring, Marc Stewart, USGS

  • Abstract

    An Overview of Oregon Water Science Center Quality Assurance Procedures for Continuous Water Quality Temperature Monitoring
    Marc Stewart and Carrie Boudreau
    US Geological Survey Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, Oregon

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of monitoring stream flow. Increasingly water temperature has become a key parameter of concern for both research scientists and cooperators. Like stream flow, water temperature plays a role in most physical and biological processes in streams. The USGS Oregon Water Science Center (ORWSC) has over 150 real time continuous water temperature sites and many of these are funded by cooperators as part of required monitoring of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs). This poster will provide an overview of the current ORWSC program, present the current QA procedures, offer suggestions on streamlining data processing in the future.

108 Monitoring Cyanobacteria Blooms in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon: A Closer Look at Techniques and Methods, Olivia Stoken, USGS

  • Abstract

    Monitoring Cyanobacteria Blooms in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon: A Closer Look at Techniques and Methods
    Olivia Stoken1, Liam Schenk1, and Tamara Wood2
    1US Geological Survey, Klamath Falls Field Station, Klamath Falls, Oregon; 2US Geological Survey, Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, Oregon

    Since 2011, the US Geological Survey has been monitoring large cyanobacteria blooms that degrade water quality during summer months in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Monitoring includes discrete water quality samples to measure cyanobacteria cell concentrations and deployment of continuous water quality sensors that measure fluorescence of phycocyanin, a pigment found in fresh water cyanobacteria. Regression models created from the discrete cyanobacteria samples are used to convert continuous phycocyanin fluorescence data into cyanobacteria cell concentrations. Over the past eight field seasons, several sampling techniques and sensors have been used which creates the possibility of discrepancies in the long-term data sets. We examine transitioning from YSI 6 series to YSI EXO phycocyanin sensors and switching from instrument calibration cups to modified churn splitters as the method to gather fluorescence data related to the discrete cyanobacteria samples. A dominance shift in the cyanobacteria bloom from the typical species, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, to a different species and its impacts on phycocyanin sensors and regression models is also examined. Cyanobacteria blooms in fresh water systems are an emergent national issue because of the impacts on water quality and overall ecosystem health. As monitoring increases, it is important to understand how different techniques and methods used to monitor these blooms impact water quality data and its interpretation.

109 Exploring Innovative Diatom Counting Methods for Use in Bioassessment to Improve Performance Without Additional Cost, Meredith Tyree, University of Colorado

  • Abstract

    Exploring Innovative Diatom Counting Methods for Use in Bioassessment to Improve Performance Without Additional Cost
    Meredith Tyree1, Ian Bishop2, Yong Cao3, Daren Carlisle4, and Sarah Spaulding5
    1University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado; 2University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island; 3Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois; 4US Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas; 5US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado

    Diatoms are an important component of many water quality monitoring programs at the local, state, and national scales, but the counting protocol used by most entities does not best characterize communities for use in biological assessment applications. The traditional protocol, which calls for analysts to count a fixed number of cells, only adequately characterizes the dominant taxa, which tend to be environmentally tolerant and widespread in both clean and polluted sites. To address this problem, we compared the fixed count method to a timed presence method, which captures richness for observed/expected (O/E) models, and a stratified method, which captures both relative abundance and richness. The timed presence method produced more sensitive and precise O/E models than the traditional method, highlighting the importance of characterizing non-dominant species, but this method does not collect relative abundance data necessary for many other types of bioassessment. We will explore whether stratified counts, which retain relative abundance data, can better characterize communities for bioassessment applications than the traditional method, without additional time or cost.

110 Harmful Algae Blooms As Seen Through the Lens of Land Cover/Land Use in Urban and Rural Lakes, Laura Webb, USEPA

  • Abstract

    Harmful Algae Blooms As Seen Through the Lens of Land Cover/Land Use in Urban and Rural Lakes
    Laura Webb
    US Environmental Protection Agency Region 7, Kansas City, Kansas

    The data presented here represent two studies done on lakes in the region. The microcystin detections and concentrations, along with nutrient concentrations and a handful of pesticide detections, will be evaluated based on watershed characteristics. Rural lakes, both from mostly undisturbed watersheds and those impacted by agriculture, will be compared to urban lakes highly impacted by urban development.

111 Implications of Phytoplankton Mobility on the Assessment of Chlorophyll a Criteria, Bruce Weckworth, Hampton Roads Sanitation District

  • Abstract

    Implications of Phytoplankton Mobility on the Assessment of Chlorophyll a Criteria
    Bruce Weckworth
    HRSD, Virginia Beach, Virginia

    Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment can lead to an over-abundance of phytoplankton, which in turn can lead to poor water quality in the nation’s waterways, including the James River. The primary concerns of increased algae growth are eutrophication, reduction of water clarity and alteration of the normal biome. In addition, certain harmful species can release toxins that are detrimental to public health and the local ecology.

    Virginia water quality standards require that state waterways are capable of meeting their designated uses. Numeric criteria may be established using generic indicators of algal abundance, such as chlorophyll a, to indicate the presence of harmful algae. The James River is also unique in that nutrient waste load allocations (and VPDES limits) are driven by chlorophyll a water-quality standards whereas most of the Chesapeake Bay nutrient limits are based on DO. Current chlorophyll monitoring methods, for criteria assessment, are fixed sites as well as weekly chlorophyll mapping program (CMAP) cruises. These methods are essentially comprised of surface water monitoring and sampling. However, chlorophyll a has high spatial, temporal, and vertical variability. Assessment of chlorophyll a could be improved by vertically averaging the data and taking into account other key variables such as tidal current.

112 Baseline Data Collection at Fire-Affected Wetlands, Camielle Westfall, State of Montana

  • Abstract

    Baseline Data Collection at Fire-Affected Wetlands
    Camielle Westfall and Linda Vance
    Montana Natural Heritage Program, University of Montana, Helena, Montana

    The high-intensity and high-severity fires that have burned across the West in recent years have burned large swaths of wetland habitat in Montana. In 2018, Montana Natural Heritage Program scientists set out to collect baseline data on burned wetlands, so that we could monitor impacts and recovery over time. This poster details the approach we used to identify candidate wetlands for sampling, the screening criteria we used to evaluate fire-affected wetlands in the field, and the vegetation, water, and soils data we collected at the sites chosen for monitoring. It also includes discussion of the lessons we learned about setting up long-term monitoring of fire-affected wetlands.

113 Using Hydroacoustics to Estimate Suspended-Sediment and Total Metal Concentrations on the San Juan River near Bluff, Utah, Chris Wilkowske, USGS

  • Abstract

    Using Hydroacoustics to Estimate Suspended-Sediment and Total Metal Concentrations on the San Juan River near Bluff, Utah
    Chris Wilkowske1, Cory Angeroth2, and Scott Hynek2
    1US Geological Survey Utah Water Science Center, Moab, Utah; 2US Geological Survey Utah Water Science Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

    The US Geological Survey stream gage San Juan River near Bluff, Utah has historically provided important data on streamflow, sediment load, and dissolved solids load to Lake Powell in southern Utah. On August 5, 2015, an unintentional release of metal laden water from the Gold King Mine occurred in the head waters of the San Juan drainage. Emergency response to this release renewed interest in the concentration and chemical make-up of the suspended sediment. The purpose of this study is to deliver continuous measurements of suspended sand concentration, suspended sand median grain size, suspended silt-clay concentration, and total metal concentrations.

    To accomplish the study goals of continuously monitoring the river, a dual frequency array of single frequency acoustic doppler velocimeters has been installed at the San Juan near Bluff, Utah gage. The acoustic backscatter intensity and attenuation from the instruments is recorded and used along with concurrent collection of suspended sediment samples. After a sufficient period of data collection, a site-specific model can be developed to relate the desired suspended sediment parameters to the acoustic signal following the methods outlined in US Geological Survey Professional Paper 1823 (Topping and Wright 2016). Along with the suspended sediment samples, separate water quality samples are also collected and analyzed for dissolved and particulate metals concentration. Combination of the two data sets should reveal which sediment size fraction is associated with the highest metals loads and perhaps the source of the sediment. Once a model has been developed that relates suspended sand or silt-clay concentration to metals concentration, the total annual load of suspended sediment and metals from the San Juan River can be determined. Another goal of this project is to make the concentration and load data available in near real-time by through the US Geological Survey National Real-Time Water Quality website. The real-time data could inform water quality managers in making health related advisories about the San Juan River.