Long-term Monitoring Water Quality in the Catskill Mountains of New York

Science Center Objects

Summary The Long-Term Monitoring Network (LTM) is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor trends in surface water quality by nesting a few intensively-monitored stations within a network of more numerous but less frequently sampled stations. The intensively-monitored stations have provided monthly discharge and water-quality data at 6 locations across the country si...

Summary

The Long-Term Monitoring Network (LTM) is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor trends in surface water quality by nesting a few intensively-monitored stations within a network of more numerous but less frequently sampled stations. The intensively-monitored stations have provided monthly discharge and water-quality data at 6 locations across the country since 1983. Continuous discharge and storm water quality sampling were added to these stations in the late 1980’s.  One of the major objectives of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) was to establish a network of stations for long-term monitoring of surface-water quality and to determine its relation to changes in atmospheric deposition. To meet this objective monitoring stations were selected on streams and lakes that represent the resources of particular regions and that are sensitive to changes in atmospheric deposition. In 2009 the EPA Office of Air and Radiation took over the LTM program from US EPA Office of Research and Development which had provided almost continuous support for monitoring at LTM stations in the Northeastern United States for more than 25 years. This commitment enabled the evaluation of the effect of reduced emissions on surface water quality in compliance with the CAAA during that time period. The LTM program has provided funding for the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor stream water quality for several sites in the Catskills from 1983 to the present. Data from the LTM network have been used to estimate trends in stream chemistry and have shown the Catskills Mountains to be a good indicator of effects of acid deposition on surface waters in the region (Stoddard, 1991; Murdoch and Stoddard, 1992, 1993; Murdoch and others, 1998; Stoddard and others, 1999). In 2006 a comparison of surface water trends in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains used data from LTM stations in the Catskills to document decreasing trends in sulfate and nitrate concentrations during the period 1992 to 2001 (Burns and others, 2006).

 

Objectives of the LTM program for the Catskill Mountain region

1) Monitor water quality at 4 stream monitoring stations, 2) Conduct trend analyses and compute concentration—discharge relations for water quality data at each site, 3) Assess regional effects of the clean air act on surface water quality using data from LTM and from other monitoring stations in the region.

 

Approach

The design of the LTM network allows analysis of temporal trends in surface water quality throughout the range in flow conditions at each site. Water quality sampling includes periodic manual sample collection and electronic measurement of air temperature and water temperature every fifteen minutes, and storm sampling using automated samplers at 4 stations: Biscuit Brook (USGS Site ID 01434025) and Winisook Creek (USGS Site ID 01434021) in the West Branch Neversink drainage, the headwaters of the East Branch Neversink River (USGS Site ID 0143400680) and the headwaters of Rondout Creek above Peekamoose Lake (USGS Site ID 01364959). 

Project
Location by County

Catskill Region: Delaware County, NY, Greene County, NY, Schoharie
County, NY, Sullivan County, NY, Ulster County, NY