MANAGEMENT AND MODELING DATA NEEDS
ModMon is the main source of space and time intensive data for meeting the Neuse River Estuary Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) monitoring and modeling needs. It is designed for both “event-based” and long-term intensive monitoring. The long-term effectiveness of the legislatively-mandated 30% reduction in nitrogen loading to reduce symptoms of eutrophication (nuisance algal blooms, hypoxia and fish kills) is evaluated with ModMon data. Validations of the NEEM, Neu-BERN and EFDC (EPA) water quality models have relied almost exclusively on ModMon monitoring data. Additionally, some models require rate (i.e., algal growth, nutrient cycling, productivity) measurements, which ModMon routinely provides. Continued modeling will be required to adaptively manage TMDLs into the foreseeable future and will continue to rely on ModMon WQ monitoring data.
DATA AVAILABILITY AND QUALITY
ModMon is a proven source of high-quality, readily-available, verifiable water quality data compatible with State and federal agency informational data bases, meeting EPA QA/QC specifications. ModMon has continuously provided data, collaborative assessments of that data and reports based on well-informed, nationally and internationally-respected scientific expertise and peer-reviewed publications and reports in top quality journals and books (below). ModMon’s website serves management, research, educational and public outreach needs.
LONG-TERM MONITORING NEEDS
Human expansion in and growing use of the Neuse watershed, combined with a multi-decadal increase in tropical storm and hurricane activity (7 major hurricanes in the past 6 years) calls for a comprehensive, long-term assessment of water quality impacts. For State modeling and management purposes, it is critical to differentiate human from natural (climatic) drivers of water quality. Many impacts are episodic, necessitating rapid access to and evaluation of water quality and habitat responses. Because its scientific expertise and laboratories are located near the estuaries, ModMon has been effective in rapidly and intensively respond to these events. Examples include documenting the initial and longer-term impact of Hurricane Floyd’s (1999-2000) floodwaters on water quality and habitat condition in the Neuse-Pamlico Sound system. Hydrologic and water quality effects from more recent Hurricanes Isabel (2003) and Ophelia (2005) have also been documented and serve as a long-term data baseline for quantifying and comparing human (e.g. nutrient and other pollutant inputs) and climatic pressures and perturbations on North Carolina’s most important aquatic resource.
ENHANCED MONITORING CAPABILITIES FOR THE STATE WITH VERTICAL PROFILERS
To fill DENR’s needs for optimal vertical resolution of water quality criteria needed to evaluate the TMDL, ModMon has recently (Fall 2005) been involved in the deployment and calibration of automated vertical profilers (AVPs). These profilers collect high resolution continuous data on Chlorophyll a (Chl a ) and are located in segments of the estuary that have historically shown symptoms of nutrient impairment. The AVPs produce depth profiles on chl-a and other critical water quality indicators, including turbidity, dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature, by using in-stream sensors. Data from the sensors are transmitted by cell phone to UNC-CH’ s Institute of Marine Sciences, where they are recorded and sent on via the Internet to NC DENR’s Division of Water Quality and the EPA Region IV Regional office in Atlanta. This gives the State and EPA a “real time” glimpse of water quality conditions, and over longer periods allow the agencies to best determine whether State is compliant with the 10/40 Chl a criterion for the TMDL. This, combined with the ModMon sampling throughout the Neuse R. Estuary and the NC Ferry based WQ Monitoring Program, FerryMon ( www.paerllab.web.unc.edu/ferrymon ), provide the quality and quantity of data and the statistical procedures necessary for making scientifically sound evaluations of the TMDL.
COLLABORATION, TRUST, AND INDEPENDENCE
ModMon continues to be a timely, trustworthy and productive partner for obtaining and evaluating water quality data for State and federal agencies, as well as municipalities, private industry and citizen/stakeholder groups. ModMon is an independent, credible, easily accessible and authoritative source of data for developing, evaluating and adaptively managing TMDL values for the Neuse River Estuary. ModMon serves a technically-sound and effective third party in the event of conflicting recommendations among the State and federal agencies as the TMDL and other management strategies are further developed and revised.
ModMon’s dataset, sampling locations, and researchers are utilized as part of the MASC 220 (ENST 220) North Carolina Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems MAYMESTER course offered through the Department of Marine Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill. This class uses the Neuse River estuary as a case study to examine both natural processes and human impacts on estuarine systems. The course is heavily “hands-on” and blends environmental modeling, field research, laboratory analysis, and data synthesis and interpretation. Suitable for both science and non-science majors, students spend one week at the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) in Morehead City. They participate in a cruise on the R/V Capricorn to the Neuse River estuary in which they actively engage in research using state-of-the art techniques. On non-cruise days, students work on laboratory analysis, data synthesis, and group reports and have afternoon seminars conducted by IMS faculty and graduate students. Click here to learn more about the course.Preview (opens in a new window)