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The Coastal Bend Bays Project, A Proactive Approach in Coastal Monitoring For South Texas

Brien A. Nicolau 1, Alex X. Nunez 1, Erin M. Albert 1 and Jefferson N. Childs 2

1 Center for Coastal Studies, Corpus Christi, Texas
2 Minerals Management Service, Anchorage, Alaska

The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) area in South Texas has experienced a decline in temporal and spatial monitoring since the 1970s. Historical data lacked consistent monitoring within the expansive area encompassed by the CBBEP. Numerous historical concerns for water and sediment quality, including trace metal concentrations, existed. A potential Total Maximum Daily Load designation for dissolved copper prompted this proactive study. Project objectives required intensive monitoring that collected sufficient amounts of field, water, sediment, and trace metals data. Field sampling and laboratory analysis of aqueous trace metals utilized ultra-clean methods for the improved precision and accuracy required to produce reliable and accurate results. Utilization of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) probability-based sampling design was to determine resource conditions, provide information to evaluate environmental policies, and to help identify any emerging environmental concerns before they became widespread problems. The EMAP sampling design, consisting of 244 stations sampled over two years, provided essential spatial and temporal components in the monitoring of CBBEP coastal waters that produced a scientifically sound and extensive data set, which allowed for precise localization of anthropogenic influences. Results of this study showed that historical aqueous trace metals concentrations, using conventional methods, ranged from 10 to 280 times that of concentrations collected and analyzed using ultra-clean methods. The comprehensive understanding gained through this project continues to provide the tools required to protect, preserve, and enhance the unique estuarine and marine resources of our area.

Keywords: surface water, water quality, trace metals.

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