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Region 2 NY/NJ Harbor System

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Sediment Quality of the NY/NJ Harbor System: A 5-Year Revisit.
An investigation under the Regional Environmental
Monitoring and Assessment Program (REMAP)

Darvene A. Adams 1 and Sandra Benyi 2
2003. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2, Edison, NJ. EPA/902-R-03-002.

PDF file
View the report (51 pp, 1.5 Mb, about PDF)

PDF file
View the appendices (19 pp, 277 Kb, about PDF)

The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the NY/NJ Harbor requires specific management actions to maintain and restore the Harbor environment. It also specifies that the progress of these management actions on the improvement of sediment quality and biological condition in the Harbor be measured. To do this requires initially establishing a baseline of condition of the Harbor sediment that is objective and of known statistical confidence. The next logical step is to periodically determine whether conditions have improved, declined or remained the same from the baseline. Existing studies either were conducted in a biased manner, did not cover all portions of the Harbor or did not concurrently collect the biological and chemical information to do be able to provide the baseline or subsequent trend assessment.

A previous investigation (Adams et al., 1998) provided a baseline of the areal extent of chemical contamination and biological effects in the NY/NJ Harbor system. That investigation, done in 1993 and 1994, also defined the extent of specific biological effects, such as degraded benthic macroinvertebrate communities and amphipod toxicity, and determined that these effects were associated with specific contaminants found in the sediments of the Harbor.

To begin to define trends in sediment quality and biological health of the Harbor, EPA-Region 2 conducted a followup investigation in 1998. The design, parameters measured, and methods were identical to, or comparable to, the 1993/1994 investigation. Synoptic measurements of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages, sediment toxicity and sediment chemical concentrations were collected in four sub-basins of the Harbor, encompassing 28 sampling stations in each sub-basin. Surficial sediment contaminant concentrations, sediment toxicity (Ampelisca abdita) and benthic macrofaunal community structure were measured at each station.

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2, Edison, NJ
2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - ORD, Narragansett, RI

This project was designed to support resource management decisions related to pollution control and remediation throughout the NY-NJ Harbor and Bight Apex and to assist the Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) in developing a contaminant monitoring strategy to be followed as part of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the NY-NJ Harbor system. This investigation was designed around several objectives:

Objective 1. Estimate with known confidence the percent of area in each of six major sub-basins of the NY-NJ Harbor system in which the benthic environment is "degraded", "not degraded", or "not evidently degraded" with respect to benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages, sediment toxicity, and concentrations of sediment contaminants.

Objective 2. Identify statistical associations among particular chemical contaminants and degraded benthos or toxic sediments.

Objective 3. Develop and validate a managerially useful index of benthic quality for the NY/NJ Harbor system, based on the condition of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages.

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2, Edison, NJ
2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2, New York, NY
3 Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Westminster, CA

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