LINJ Meeting Summary October 1994

Science Center Objects

10/05/94-Meeting Summary

November 28, 1994

Dear Committee Member,

 

Subject: Summary of the October 5, 1994 NAWQA liaison meeting in Edison, NJ.

 

The input from this second meeting was useful in broadening our understanding of the availability and gaps in water-quality data and will help us focus our efforts in how we should approach obtaining and analyzing the data. Details of these sessions are in the attached write up for your information. Comments or additions are welcome should you have any.

For the sessions on stratification, there seemed to be a concensus of the surface-water group to use systems already in use. We agree with that approach. Basically, the group recommended to build on the USFS ecomapping effort. Ecomapping is an extension of the ecoregion concept but allows for interpretation at varying scales of resolution. The approach should work well for the surface-water efforts and probably also fits well enough our conceptualization of groundwater systems.

We thank those who were able to attend for their input and look forward to presenting some intial results of our efforts at the next meeting on April 6, 1995.

 

Summary of LINJ liason committee meeting--October 5, 1994

Three morning working groups-- groundwater (gw), surface water (sw), and ecology-- focused on defining availability of water-quality data and priorities for data analysis. Two afternoon sessions (sw and gw) focused on defining criteria for stratification of the NAWQA study unit.

 

Summary of sw working group on available data

The sw working group discussed issues outlined below. Detailed information concerning types of samples, constituents analyzed, and quality of the data was generally not known.

 

Sources of sw-quality data

Federal programs

EPA--EMAP program (data not in STORET)--Randy Braun

EPA--National Dioxin Study

  • may also be a possible source of fish tissue and bed sediment data. CERCLA program--some sw data, w/ high QA/QC standards EPA/NJDEP Volunteer Monitoring Coordination--Diane Calesso

 

State and other programs

Non-Point Source Program

  • 319H Dan Van Abs (NJ)           Phil Degatano (NY)
  • 604B John Malleck (NJ)           Peter Maack (NY state)

Quarterly review of work plans for state monitoring program

  • 106 John Malleck

NJDEP-USGS cooperative programs--Jim Mumman/Jack Gibs

Pesticide information NJDEP--Areta Wouk Office of Quality Assurance--List of contracts

Summary surveys for NJDEP monitoring--Paul Morton

NJDEP intensive surveys (may include metals, VOCs, nutrients)-

  • Bur. of Monitoring and Management--Bill Honechefsky and Al Korndoerfer
  • TMDL studies--Shing Fu Hsueh
  • Clean Lakes Program--Pat Goan
  • Fish and Game (tissue data in STORET?)
  • similar surveys w/ ISC, DRBC, NY DECE, NYC DEP

NY/NJ Harbor and Estuary Program--Kathryn Quibb

DEP Volunteer Monitoring Coordination--Dave Rosenblatt

Environmental Authorities Association--Ellen Gulbinsky

  • Pre-treatment program

Surface Water Quality Supply Authority

  • questionable data format, paper or STORET?

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

  • possible source of biological data

Environmental Federation ANJEC--Abigail Fair

Pinelands Commission Ambient Network--Bob Zampella

SCS, particularly for Navesink and Great Swamp areas--Tom Drewes

Corps of Engineers

Hazardous waste programs--RCRA and ECRA?

Universities--University Microfilms PhD dissertations

Rutgers--State GIS Coordination Committee

  • Water Resources Research Institute--Joan Ehrenfeld

Consulting Firms, e.g. Coastal Environmental

 

Priority issues for sw data analysis

The following list of issues are priorities for the next 3-4 years of NAWQA efforts, not in any order of priority.

  • Assess water quality in the context of flow and use (withdrawals)
  • Establish relations among surface-water quality, interbasin transfers, withdrawals, and ecology
  • Determine importance of metals by examining sediment, tissues, and water- quality data
  • Screen STORET data for flow ranges and pull water-quality data for specified ranges
  • When analyzing dissolved oxygen data, determine early morning concentrations (minimums)
  • Examine the solubility and ecological effects of newer pesticides using application data
  • Determine effects of chlorination on ecological communities (NJPDES reports may be useful)
  • Examine trends where possible, update Hay-Campbell report
  • Correlate biological community structure with water quality and habitat
  • Correlate water-quality data with various basin characteristics data, such as land use
  • Determine sources of impairment on a site specific scale
  • Use parameters that integrate water quality, such as biological data, to target sampling sites
  • Examine point-source discharges of VOCs

 

Summary of gw working group on available data

The first groundwater breakout session began with a discussion of relevant databases available for a retrospective analysis of water quality within the study unit. Regionally and temporally extensive databases were identified for nutrients, inorganics, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs); whereas, databases which are more local in extent were identified for pesticides. Isotopic and CFC data is very scarce and limited to a few site-specific study areas. Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, as well as the Coastal Plain physiographic province of New Jersey, appear to contain the most exhaustive databases. Regionally and temporally extensive databases for these areas are maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and various State and County agencies for nutrients, inorganics, VOCs, heavy metals, and pesticides. The three boroughs of New York City within the study unit (Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) are sparsely represented by available databases apparently because New York City obtains drinking water from a series of upstate reservoirs. The New England and Piedmont provinces of northern New Jersey appear to have relatively sparse data coverage with the exception of several site specific water-quality investigations conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and various State and County agencies. Information is summarized below for databases identified as having the highest potential for providing useful data to the retrospective analysis. Each of these databases is maintained in computer format and is spatially referenced using geographic information system technology.

 

Sources of gw-quality data

New Jersey Ambient - A program of sampling 20-30 shallow monitoring wells each year. Originally data was collected only from the Coastal Plain of southern New Jersey, more recently data is collected from the New England and Piedmont provinces of northern New Jersey and outside of the study unit.

USGS NWIS (NJ) - A database of over 2000 wells throughout the state with nutrient and inorganic data. VOC data are available for about 750 wells and pesticide data are available for about 200 wells. Much of the VOC and pesticide data was collected from the outcrop area of the Potomac-Raritan- Magothy aquifer system which is in the Delaware River drainage of southern New Jersey.

USGS NWIS (LI) - A database with data from a network of 30 wells sampled annually for inorganics as well as an extensive network of monitoring wells sampled by Nassau and Suffolk Counties for inorganics and VOCs. The LI-NWIS database also contains water-quality data for a variety of projects conducted on Long Island including one of the only databases identified for Brooklyn and Queens.

Nassau County - A database of 420 public-supply wells (many confined) sampled annually since the 1930's and containing data for nutrients, heavy metals, a limited number of pesticides, and VOCs (including trichlorofloromethane which may be useful as a groundwater tracer). In addition, there is a network of 450 shallow monitoring wells (mainly unconfined) sampled over the last seven years for VOCs, inorganics, and heavy metals.

Suffolk County - A network of private and monitoring wells containing information on 107 parameters including a full suite of inorganics and VOCs, and 10-15 pesticides. This database contains aldicarb data for 12-15,000 samples from private wells. In addition, the County maintains a network of 650 public-supply wells with associated water-quality information.

Safe Drinking Water Act - A database of public-supply wells for New Jersey and New York(?) containing water-quality information on nutrients and VOCs. This database is not spatially referenced within a geographic information system and data collected prior to 1993 may be of limited use due to the aggregation of samples prior to analysis.

Others - Numerous State and County databases were identified as being potentially useful, however, representatives from the agencies were not available to discuss specifics concerning these databases. The availability and usefulness of these databases will be assessed by NAWQA staff members. Other databases were discussed, however, many were considered less desirable because the data were not in computer format or relevant well-site information was not available.

 

Priority issues for gw data analysis

Following the discussion on available databases, the groundwater group initiated a discussion defining priorities for data analysis within the study unit. The group noted a lack of data for certain constituents within existing databases preventing adequate assessments of their impact on regional ground- water quality. For instance, it was noted by both New Jersey and Long Island representatives that although some data exists concerning agricultural pesticides, there is a lack of data concerning corresponding residential pesticides, and many areas within the study unit lack data for both classes of pesticides. NAWQA data collection efforts may need to focus on these compounds primarily in agricultural and/or residential areas. Radon was identified as another constituent for which insufficient data exists to adequately evaluate its impact on regional groundwater quality.

VOCs were identified as a constituent group of major concern by representatives from New Jersey and Long Island. Although extensive databases exist for VOCs within the study unit, especially on Long Island and in the Coastal Plain province of New Jersey, the suite of constituents analyzed for is typically limited. Additional constituents may be pervasive within shallow aquifer systems but not recognized due to a lack of analyses. An example of this is the recently discovered pervasiveness of Met-tert-butyl -ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive. Historically, MTBE has generally not been analyzed for, however, recent analyses indicate frequent detection within shallow aquifer systems in residential and urban areas throughout the Nation. NAWQA data collection efforts will serve to fill in some of these recognized gaps in available databases by expanding upon typical sampling schedules.

Some areas within the study unit were recognized as having regionally and temporally extensive databases for constituents of concern such as VOCs. These databases will provide the Long Island-New Jersey NAWQA study unit with unique opportunities to evaluate on an aquifer-wide scale the impacts of specific constituents on water quality. For instance, available databases should allow for detailed evaluation of the movement of VOCs from shallow to deep flow systems and the physical, chemical, and biological processes which govern the movement of specific constituents.

 

Summary of ecology working group on available data

The ecology working group discussed data sources and issues outlined as below. Some contacts to gain detailed information concerning each source are listed.

 

Sources of ecological data

NJDEP data sources

  • General information
  • huge paper history on algae, periphyton, and phytoplankton
  • ranking habitat system (computerized)
  • two decades of bacteria information on STORET
  • Whippany Project (ongoing)
  • focus on benthic communities upstream and downstream of pollution sources
  • AMNET (ambient network of benthic macroinvertebrates and some habitat data)
  • 80 stations in the Raritan basin
  • 191 stations in the Delaware basin down to Camden
  • 125 stations in the Passaic/Hackensack basins
  • calibrated with EPA's 200 station data set (Jim Kurtenbach)
  • one sample per station in year of sampling, resample every five years
  • Ecoregion survey of benthic macroinvertebrate benchmark conditions
  • 7 ecoregions in New Jersey, each with 5 reference stations (35 total)
  • selected least impacted sites as reference points
  • sampled 4 times (each season) in one year, no resampling planned
  • ecomapping in conjunction with USFS--Tom Engle
  • Permit-related studies
  • done on case by case basis (paper form)

Soil Conservation Service (in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • 3 years worth of data @ 15 sites in the Great Swamp
  • in GIS and report form

US Fish and Wildlife (Craig Moore)

  • BIOS (biological equivalent of STORET) (computerized)

National Park Service

  • WQ monitoring on 10 stations on the Passaic, no biological data yet
  • have Frank Trama's biological data from same sites (1986-1987)

NJ Bureau of Fisheries

  • crisis oriented work, not routine sampling, perhaps some fish community data

EMAP/REMAP

  • first year of data available at a few sites randomly scattered throughout New Jersey

EPA's IBI study (Jim Kurtenbach)

  • RBP for fish (large data set)

Delaware River Basin Commission

  • for Piedmont, Highlands, and Coastal Plain, especially tissues

Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science

  • benthic invertebrate and phytoplankton studies

Universities:

  • Rutgers University
  • zoological department in Piscataway (Frank Trama (retired))
  • Camden campus, fish studies in South Jersey
  • Ramapo State College -Stockton State College
  • Trenton State College
  • Wm. Patterson College, Mike Sebetich (primarily algae and lake studies)

Health Departments for

  • Monmouth County--phytoplankton (estuarine/marine)
  • Ocean County--phytoplankton (estuarine/marine)
  • Cape May County

Volunteer Associations (* are NJDEP trained)

  • *South Branch Raritan Watershed Association
  • Upper Raritan Watershed Association
  • Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission
  • *Trout Unlimited (local chapter)
  • Passaic River Coalition

EIS studies

  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Power plants
  • others

Public site remediation and in-stream studies

Tissue data from NJDEP

  • lakes program (phytoplankton, fish)
  • mollusk data from Raritan Bay to Delaware Bay (coastal)
  • Fish Advisory Program (Leslie McGeorge)

Long Island data sources

  • Gateway National Recreation (contact National Park Service)
  • Fire Island National Recreation
  • NY/NJ Harbor Complex study
  • Long Island Sound study
  • Nature Conservancy (Marilyn Jordan)

Staten Island data sources

  • Gateway National Recreation

 

Priority issues for ecological data analysis

General considerations:

  • Benthic invertebrates are most useful with considerable data throughout state.
  • Algae needs a lot of data for useful analysis, most data in coastal areas.
  • Habitat needs a good standardized ranking system, data common but lacks computerization.
  • Bacteria important if NAWQA concerned with sanitary conditions, lots of data in STORET.
  • Fish data probably less useful and lack of community level data on a routine basis.
  • Data gaps for marine and estuarine biology (RBP nonexistant and needed).

Analyze for statistical relations between:

Chemical and biological data

  • compare and contrast between watersheds
  • AMNET and Ecoregion data sets (best sources at this point)
  • evaluate what chemical and other factors contribute to impaired sites

Land use (non-point sources) and in-stream habitat

  • factor in surrounding land-use relations
  • relate impacts to use of biocides and herbicides for given land uses

 

Summary of working groups on stratification criteria

Stratification for surface water

The group strongly suggested using systems already in use, since similar efforts have already been done for the State of New Jersey based on the ecoregion concept. The ecoregion concept was used to develop reference sites for the NJDEP benthic macroinvertebrate surveys and is considered when assessing water-quality impacts in the 305-B reports. Basically, the group recommended to build on the USFS ecomapping effort (contact is Tom Engel). Ecomapping is an extension of the ecoregion concept and is designed to be used at varying scales of resolution. Land use and population effects can be analyzed within this framework and the group suggested using the State Development and Re-Development Plan as a basis when projecting land use. Rutgers has GIS coverages of the Plan.

 

Stratification for groundwater

The second groundwater breakout session suggested stratifying the study unit into subunits which represent common controls on groundwater quality. Delineation of the study unit into subunits will allow for (1) more meaningful comparisons of water quality across the study unit and (2) an evaluation of natural and anthropogenic factors which are significantly influencing water- quality conditions. Listed below are all the criteria discussed by the group. The challenge for the NAWQA staff will be to identify the appropriate scale and criteria to stratify the study unit into subunits for which available water-quality data can be evaluated.

 

List of factors to consider

Physiography

Geology/hydrogeology

  • outcrop areas; recharge/discharge areas
  • confined vs. unconfined
  • shallow vs. deep flow system
  • unsaturated zone thickness

Groundwater development--stressed vs. unstressed

Demographic information

  • land use/land cover
  • population density
  • age and history of land use/community
  • type of sewer or septic system

Soil types

Climate or water budget information--precipitation, microclimate, runoff maps

Temporal stratification of water-quality data within subunits

Proximity to ocean and saline-water influences