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Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Algal Bloom Advisory and Decision Support System for Coastal and Estuarine Systems

Project Leads and Affiliations:

Ross S. Lunetta, EPA/Office of Research and Development
Hans W. Paerl, UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences

Key Collaborators:

Jud Kenworthy, NOAA/NOS/Beaufort Lab
Jay Sauber, North Carolina DENR - Division of Water Quality
Douglas Campbell, North Carolina DHHS - Division of Public Health
Jerry Gaskill, North Carolina DOT- Ferry Division
Jennifer Derby, EPA Region 4
Thomas Mace, NASA - Dryden Flight Research Center

Project Abstract Written: October 2005

Project Timeframe: 2006 - 2008

Project Summary:

An integrated water quality monitoring and decision support system will be developed to provide a first step towards an operational United States eastern seaboard coastal and estuarine water quality monitoring capability through regional scale pilot implementation in Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary System (APES). This near real-time capability will identify, delineate, determine the extent, magnitude and duration of chlorophyll-a concentrations that exceed the state of NC criteria concentration of 40μg/L and serve as an early warning tool, by providing Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) advisories data to the NC Department of Public Health (NCDPH) to support their efforts to better understand the relationships between HAB events, human exposure, and potential health effects.

This project integrates an existing ferry based in situ monitoring system, FerryMon (http://www.ferrymon.org Exit EPA Disclaimer ), with operational satellite and airborne remote sensor capabilities to extend both the spatial extent and temporal frequency of water quality measurements across the APES. Water color (particulate and dissolved) measurement data would be used by the NC Department of Natural Resources (NCDENR) and the USEPA Region 4 Water Division to assess the impacts of light attenuation and suspended sediment on Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) habitats in the APES. In addition, remotely sensed Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) and chlorophyll-a estimates would be used in combination to further refine HAB predictions, indicate the input and distribution of terrestrial organic matter, and understand broad scale biogeochemical processes. Decision support products provided under this proposal will include data on water quality and HAB conditions delivered via a web-based information system to North Carolina State Divisions of Public Health, Water Quality and Fisheries to facilitate rapid and effective decisions regarding safe water use for recreation (e.g., including swimming), fishing, and shellfish harvesting. Also, data will be delivered to EPA and NOAA to provide support for Federal oversight programs, including EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) mandated N reductions, Region 4 Coastal/Wetlands Program, and NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) program.

Related Links:

More Advanced Monitoring Initiative (AMI) Projects


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