Environmental Monitoring within the APNEP Region
The periodic collection of environmental monitoring data is essential for a variety of activities, including model confirmation by researchers, state of environment reporting by assessors, adaptive management by natural resource managers and environmental oversight by stakeholders. Collecting spatially explicit data is essential for assessing both large-scale indicator trends and changes at finer scales. Because patterns of interaction and the strength of these interactions vary in time and space, collecting data in both dimensions will increase understanding about potential viability in these interactions and advance the ability of models to represent future scenarios. (ii)
To facilitate the development of an integrated monitoring network within the Albemarle-Pamlico region, APNEP staff, in consulting with the Partnership's six resource monitoring & assessment teams and "Monitoring Networks" implementation workgroup, is developing in 2013 an integrated monitoring strategy to guide future environmental monitoring in the region.
Browse the inks at left for information on APNEP’s Citizen Monitoring Network, a Directory of Monitoring Information Sources within the APNEP region, and protocols and guidelines for laboratories producing environmental data from the region.
The following is a compilation of citations referenced on the APNEP Science & Technology web pages. The citations are sorted in alphabetical order by author(s) and publication year.
(i) Coastal Research and Monitoring Strategy Workgroup (CRMSW). 2000. Clean Water Action Plan: Coastal Research and Monitoring Strategy. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, Washington, DC.
(ii) National Research Council (NRC). 2006. Dynamic Changes in Marine Ecosystems: Fishing, Food Webs, and Future Options. Committee on Ecosystem Effects of Fishing: Phase II – Assessments of the Extent of Change and the Implications for Policy, National Research Council.
(iii) Thayer, Gordon W., Teresa A. McTigue, Russell J. Bellmer, Felicity M. Burrows, David H. Merkey, Amy D. Nickens, Stephen J. Lozano, Perry F. Gayaldo, Pamela J. Polmateer, and P. Thomas Pinit. 2003. Science-Based Restoration Monitoring of Coastal Habitats, Volume One: A Framework for Monitoring Plans Under the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000 (Public Law 160-457). NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 23, Volume 1. NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Silver Spring, MD. 35 pp. plus appendices.
(iv) Thayer, Gordon W., Teresa A. McTigue, Ronald J. Salz, David H. Merkey, Felicity M. Burrows, and Perry F. Gayaldo, (eds.). 2005. Science-Based Restoration Monitoring of Coastal Habitats, Volume Two: Tools for Monitoring Coastal Habitats. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 23. NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Silver Spring, MD. 628 pp. plus appendices.
Environmental Monitoring Directory
This page leads to compilations of past and current long-term (> 12 months) environmental monitoring networks within the Albemarle-Pamlico region. Monitoring activities restricted to one of the six major APNEP basins are compiled separately. Each complete description should include the program name, sponsoring agencies, target sample population, targeted parameters, geographic coverage, monitoring frequency and duration. Information specific to the A-P region is italicized. Parameters of note are in bold. Within each category monitoring activities are listed in order of the lead agency’s organizational jurisdiction: international, federal, state, sub-state.
Reviewers who know of other monitoring efforts within the region are encouraged to notify APNEP’s Science Coordinator so such activities may be added to these compilations. A list of acronyms of organizations involved in monitoring:
ECU = East Carolina University
Environmental Monitoring within the White Oak Basin: past and current long-term (> 12 months) environmental monitoring networks solely within the White Oak River Basin (including Core and Bogue Sounds):
NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) provides that national infrastructure to monitor tide, current, and water levels. The only estuarine station within the Albemarle-Pamlico region is Station 8655483 in Beaufort (Bogue Sound), NC.
The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve system (NC-NERR), a cooperative effort between DCM and NOAA, supports the NERR System-wide Monitoring Program (SwMP) by monitoring water quality and meteorological data at select sites. One such site was in the White Oak Basin: Rachel Carson Reserve. NC-NERR conducted water quality sampling at two stations in Rachael Carson NERR: Middle Marsh (1997-2003) and Deep Creek (Carrot Island, 1999-2003).
DWQ monitored the 20.8 mi2 Upper Swift Creek and 4.7 mi2 Toms Creek watersheds (Wake County) from 2000 to 2002 in support of a 2003 assessment, part of the Watershed Assessment and Restoration Project (funded by the North Carolina Clean Water Trust Fund). Parameters monitored include benthic community and habitat characteristics, water chemistry (metals, organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, current use pesticides, nutrients) and toxicology, channel and riparian conditions.
NCSU operates the RiverNet water quality monitoring network in the Neuse River Basin. The river monitoring network started with its first station in April 2000 and now has seven stations, the newest commenced operation in February 2003. Water quality data is continuously collected by monitoring stations that are positioned throughout the Neuse River Basin. The information collected includes depth, water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate levels, and turbidity.
The non-profit Lower Neuse Basin Association is a NPDES coalition that supports monthly (some semimonthly or bimonthly) instream water monitoring for nutrients, chlorophyll a, turbidity, fecal coliform, and TSS at 48 stations and metals (Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Hg, Ni, Zn) at 8 stations (Mn also monitored at fewer stations), with actual monitoring conducted by a single private contractor. The Lower Neuse River Basin is the geographic area ultimately draining into the Neuse River below the Falls of the Neuse Reservoir dam.
Environmental Monitoring within the Tar-Pamlico Basin: past and current long-term (> 12 months) environmental monitoring networks solely within the Tar-Pamlico Basin (including central Pamlico Sound).
USFWS posts data from annual midwinter bald eagle surveys from 1986 through 2000. One of the survey routes was within the Tar-Pamlico Basin: Lake Mattamuskeet. The annual surveys posted for Lake Mattamuskeet are 1987-1992 and 1998-2000. No other survey routes were within the APNEP region.
DWQ monitored the 78 mi2 Upper Conetoe Creek watershed (Edgecombe, Martin, and Pitt Counties) from 2000 to 2002 in support of a 2003 assessment, part of the Watershed Assessment and Restoration Project (funded by the North Carolina Clean Water Trust Fund). Parameters monitored include benthic community and habitat characteristics, water chemistry (metals, organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, current use pesticides, nutrients) and toxicology, channel and riparian conditions.
ECU has monitored water quality in the Pamlico River since 1967 through annual grants from PCS Phosphate. Currently, ten stations in the Pamlico River and one in the lower Tar River are monitored biweekly. Depth profiles are made for salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and photosynthetically available radiation. Surface and bottom water samples are collected and analyzed for total dissolved phosphorus, dissolved orthophosphate phosphorus, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, dissolved Kjeldahl nitrogen, particulate nitrogen, particulate phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and fluoride.
The Roanoke Rapids Dam is the first dam on the mainstem Roanoke River encountered by diadromous fishes in their upstream spawning migrations. As part of re-licensing the hydropower station associated with the dam, the owner Dominion/North Carolina Power and natural resource agencies (USFWS, NOAA Fisheries, NCWRC, NCDMF and VDGIF) agreed to form a Diadromous Fish Restoration Technical Advisory Committee (DFRTAC) to provide for cooperative monitoring and restoration of diadromous fish in the Roanoke River Basin. Currently the NCWRC (contact: Pete Kornegay) is monitoring striped bass and American shad spawning stock on an annual basis. Monitoring efforts are concentrated in the vicinity of Roanoke Rapids and Weldon, NC (Halifax and Northampton Counties). NCWRC is also conducting annual monitoring of outmigrating American shad juveniles in the lower Roanoke River. Dominion/North Carolina Power began in 2005 annual monitoring of diadromous and resident fishes within a 1.5 mile reach downstream of the Roanoke Rapids Dam.
Also as part of the same re-licensing Dominion/North Carolina Power is involved in adaptive management efforts to investigate and reduce, as needed, the effects of peaking hydropower operations on the lower Roanoke River. Cooperative management teams consisting of Dominion, NCWRC, DEHNR, NOAA Fisheries, USFWS and The Nature Conservancy are responsible for developing and implementing monitoring studies. Annual monitoring efforts beginning in 2005 are being undertaken to identify the effects of peaking operations on resident fish, benthos, riparian vegetation, and bank erosion.
Water temperature and dissolved oxygen are monitored in the Roanoke Rapid Dam tailrace at 15-minute intervals.
Environmental Monitoring within the Pasquotank Basin: past and current long-term (> 12 months) environmental monitoring networks solely within the Pasquotank Basin (including Albemarle, Currituck, and eastern Pamlico Sounds).
USEPA’s National Fish Tissue Study worked with 47 states, three tribes, and two other federal agencies for four years (2000-2003) to collect fish from 500 lakes and reservoirs selected randomly from the estimated 270,000 lakes and reservoirs in the lower 48 states. Sampling teams used consistent methods nationwide to collect samples of a predator fish species (e.g., bass or trout) and a bottom-dwelling species (e.g., catfish or carp) from each lake or reservoir. EPA analyzed fillets for the predator samples and whole bodies for the bottom dweller samples to measure concentrations of 268 chemicals in the fish tissue. The persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals include mercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins/furans, along with many pesticides and other organic chemicals, such as phenols and chlorobenzenes. Chemical analysis of all fish samples should be complete by the end of 2004. EPA is releasing the interim raw data each year. One of the 143 water bodies sampled nationally in year 1 (2000) was within the Pasquotank Basin: Phelps Lake. No other lakes or reservoirs in years 2, 3, or 4 were within the APNEP region.
Since 1996 USGS has partnered with City of Virginia Beach Department of Public Utilities in a Virginia Beach Shallow Ground-Water Study. A number of the study’s monitoring wells in the Virginia Beach Ground-Water Network are located in the Pasquotank Basin. In addition to water levels, water quality groups evaluated include nutrients, major inorganics, minor and trace inorganics, physical properties, and radiochemicals. A fraction of the wells in the network monitor water levels continuously.
As part of the USACE Currituck Sound Study, a USACE/USGS/NC-DENR/ Elizabeth City State University Consortium started water quality monitoring in February 2006 (one year minimum) at multiple stations, including at Wright Memorial Bridge and Currituck Banks NERR, all to support the development of a hydrodynamic model for Currituck Sound.
Environmental Monitoring Across the Albemarle-Pamlico Region: past and current long-term (> 1 year) environmental monitoring networks within the Albemarle-Pamlico administrative region that extend across more than one major APNEP basin. The multiple-basin monitoring efforts are categorized as either operational, historical (monitoring activity ceased), and statewide (regional or sub-state data not resolved).
To compare parameters with other long-term monitoring efforts around the globe APNEP contributors may wish to consult the coastal programs of international coordination activities, including the coastal modules of the Integrated Global Observing System (C-IGOS), the Global Oceans Observing System (C-GOOS), and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (C-GTOS). The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS), an international directory of sites and networks under GTOS that carry out long-term terrestrial monitoring and research activities, is sponsored by the following international organizations: FAO, ICSU, UNEP, UNESCO, and WMO.
Operational Monitoring: Federal Partners
The National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network (NADP/NTN) is a nationwide network of precipitation monitoring sites. The network is a cooperative effort between many different groups, including the State Agricultural Experiment Stations, USGS, USDA, and numerous other governmental and private entities. The NADP/NTN has grown from 22 stations at the end of 1978 to over 200 sites spanning the continental United States, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Six active NADP stations (NC03, NC06, NC29, NC35, NC41, VA24) are located within or adjacent to the APNEP region. The purpose of the network is to collect data on the chemistry of precipitation for monitoring of geographical and temporal long-term trends. Parameters include hydrogen (acidity as pH), sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, chloride, and base cations (such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium). The National Atmospheric Deposition Program has also expanded its sampling to two additional networks. The Mercury Deposition Network (MDN), currently with over 35 sites, was formed in 1995 to collect weekly samples of precipitation which are analyzed by Frontier Geosciences for total mercury. Only one site (NC42) in Washington County, NC is within or adjacent to the APNEP region. The objective of the MDN is to monitor the amount of mercury in precipitation on a regional basis; information crucial for researchers to understand what is happening to the nation's lakes and streams. Another network, the Atmospheric Integrated Research Monitoring Network (AIRMoN), was formed for the purpose of studying precipitation chemistry trends with greater temporal resolution. Precipitation samples are collected daily from a network of nine sites and analyzed for the same constituents as the NADP/NTN samples. No AIRMoN station is within or adjacent to the APNEP region.
A 1992 land cover data set was produced as part of a cooperative project between the USGS and the USEPA to produce a consistent, land cover data layer for the conterminous U.S. based on 30-meter Landsat 5 thematic mapper (TM) data. National Land Cover Data (NLCD) was developed from TM data acquired by the Multi-Resolution Land Characterization (MRLC) Consortium. The MRLC Consortium is a partnership of federal agencies that produce or use land cover data. The 1992 NLCD land cover for North Carolina and Virginia includes an accuracy assessment, and was produced in summer 1997 and January 1996, respectively (latest update for both states April 2000). A second-generation 2001 NLCD was completed by December 2006 with Landsat 5 TM, Landsat 7 TM, and ancillary data for three dates (representing seasons) at any given area.
NASA’s Earth Observing System include satellites Aqua and Terra (launched 1999), both carrying the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). MODIS monitors 36 spectral bands between 0.405 and 14.385 um, with a spatial resolution of 250-1000 m. Both satellites’ tracks are such that a particular patch of ground is monitored twice daily. The AERONET_COVE subsets cover the A-P region. The Sea-Viewing Wide Field of View Sensor (SeaWiFS) sensor on the Sea Star satellite (launched 1997) monitors eight spectral bands between 402 and 885 nm. Spatial resolution is 1.1-4.5 km.
NOAA's Coastal Change and Analysis Program (C-CAP) is developing a product that will document changes in land cover along the coastal U.S. by comparing a national land cover baseline based on 2001 NLCD data and a second baseline approximately five years hence. The overall classification accuracy target is 85 percent for 22 land cover classes. Pre-baseline data for North Carolina are 1991 land cover, 1997 land cover, and 1991-1997 land cover change. Pre-baseline data cover only the near-coastal area of the A-P Basin, with the boundary traversing through the following North Carolina counties: Johnston, Wayne, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, Martin, Bertie, and Hertford. Pre-baseline data for Virginia are 1984 land cover, 1988/1989 land cover, 1997 land cover, and 1984-1988/1989 land cover change. The pre-baseline 1980s data cover north and east of a boundary traversing the following Virginia counties: Virginia Beach City, Chesapeake City, Suffolk City, Southampton, Greensville, Brunswick, and Nottoway. The 1997 data cover north and east of a boundary traversing the following Virginia counties: Chesapeake City, Suffolk City, Southampton, Greensville, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Lunenburg. The C-CAP data will cover more of the near-coastal area than the pre-baseline data, with the boundary traversing through the following North Carolina counties: Johnston, Nash, Franklin, and Warren. For Virginia, cover will be north and east of a boundary traversing through Southampton, Sussex, Greensville, Brunswick, and Lunenburg counties.
The North Carolina Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 26 reserves within NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and of its four sites, two (Currituck Banks and Rachel Carson) are located in the APNEP region and are managed as a partnership with NCDCM. Water quality is monitored at Rachel Carson. As part of a NERRS System-Wide Monitoring Program parameters measured continuously include water quality (salinity, water temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, depth and chlorophyll a) and meteorological parameters (air temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, wind velocity, relative humidity and solar radiation). Water quality parameters (except nutrients) are measured every 30 minutes, meteorological parameters every hour, and nutrients monthly.
NOAA’s National Status & Trends Program has sponsored the Mussel Watch Project since 1986 and has monitored chemical contaminants in oysters and mussels and in sediments. Mussel Watch sites are selected to be representative of large coastal areas and to avoid small-scale patches of contamination, or "hot spots." Non-urban sites selected for monitoring are generally 10 to 100 km apart. Presently, over 280 U.S. coastal and estuarine sites are sampled for bivalves biennially and for sediments once every decade, and six sites are located with the APNEP region: John Creek, Wysocking Bay, Pungo River, Cape Hatteras, Neuse River, and Beaufort Inlet. Bivalve and sediment samples are collected from three stations at each site (stations are generally within 100 m of a site center). Tissue contaminant concentrations are measured in several bivalve species. Over 100 organic and inorganic contaminants monitored by the Mussel Watch Project include concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, several pesticides, butyltins, and certain toxic elements in sediment and bivalve samples from the coastal waters of the US. The bivalves monitored in the APNEP region are the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and blue mussel (Mytilus edulus). Because of its superior ability to filter select elements, the former bivalve was used exclusively to monitor Cu, Zn, Ag, and Pb.
USDA Forest Service’s (USFS) Southern Region Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) has an annual goal of sampling 15% of North Carolina and Virginia’s forest lands. State or other partners have the opportunity to cost share with FIA in a variety of ways: for increasing the sample fraction to 20%, or to intensify the sample for smaller area estimation, or to add additional variables of local interest, or any combination. County-level data reporting provides acreage by forest land class (timberland, productive reserved, other), by ownership class, by forest type group (e.g., loblolly-shortleaf, oak-gum-cypress), by stand size class, and by net annual growing stock and average annual removals by species group (e.g., softwood, hardwood).
USFS’ National Forest Health Monitoring plots are co-located with a subset of USFS’ FIA plots. Located on a grid, FHM plots systematically sample points approximately 17 miles apart across the state and nation. Each plot represents approximately 158,000 acres. Since 1998, survey crews have established permanent plots across North Carolina to provide baseline data on the status of forest health. Many of these plots have been re-visited at least once to begin capturing forest health trend data. Approximately 340 plots are located across North Carolina. In addition to the permanent monitoring plots, 40 sites have been set up across North Carolina to evaluate the effects of ozone on forest plants.
USEPA’s Clean Air Status & Trends Network (CASTNET) provides atmospheric data on the dry deposition component of total acid deposition, ground-level ozone and other forms of atmospheric pollution. CASTNET is considered the nation's primary source for atmospheric data to estimate dry acidic deposition and to provide data on rural ozone levels. In 1986, USEPA The network consisted of 50 monitoring sites that derived dry deposition based on measured air pollutant concentrations and modeled dry deposition velocities estimated from meteorology, land use, and site characteristic data. In 1990, amendments to the Clean Air Act necessitated a long-term, national program to monitor the status and trends of air pollutant emissions, ambient air quality, and pollutant deposition. USEPA in cooperation with NOAA, created CASTNET in 1987 from USEPA’s National Dry Deposition Network (NDDN), established by USEPA a year earlier to obtain field data on rural deposition patterns and trends at different locations throughout the United States. CASTNET now comprises over 70 monitoring stations across the United States. Two active sites (BFT142 in Beaufort, NC and PED108 in Prince Edward County, VA) are within or adjacent to the APNEP region. Each CASTNET dry deposition station measures: weekly average atmospheric concentrations of sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, sulfur dioxide, and nitric acid; (2) hourly concentrations of ambient ozone levels; (3) meteorological conditions required for calculating dry deposition rates.
USEPA’s Landscape Characterization Branch has utilized data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) 16-day composite 250 meter data product to produce annual land cover change maps for calendar years 2002-2006 in the Albemarle-Pamlico Drainage Basin.
USEPA and State water quality agencies together conducted an ecological assessment of wadeable streams throughout the U.S. This Wadeable Streams Assessment used a stratified, statistically-valid sample survey design that allows extrapolation of stream condition throughout each ecological region of the U.S. State participants used a common biologically-based protocol and are following a comprehensive quality assurance program and standardized data management system. A final report was published in December 2006. Eastern streams were initially sampled in 2004 and approximately five stations were in the APNEP region.
The Albemarle-Pamlico Drainage (river basin) was among the 51 study units beginning in 1991 included in the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The study unit (ALBE) began with an intense three-year period of surface-water, ground-water, and ecological data collection (Cycle I) followed by a less intense data collection period from 1994 to 2001. A second period of intensive sampling (Cycle II) began in 2002 with a focus on evaluating the effects of urban development on ecology and water quality [Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystem Study (EUSE)], nutrient source and delivery modeling [Spatially Referenced Regressions on Watershed Attributes (SPARROW)], and studying water quality of the Castle Hayne aquifer. Of the 30 EUSE watershed units in the upper Piedmont of North Carolina, 13 are located in the ALBE: 11 in the upper Neuse River Basin and 3 in the upper Tar-Pamlico River Basin.
USGS’s daily streamflow data for North Carolina and Virginia are typically are recorded at 15-60 minute intervals, stored onsite, and then transmitted to USGS offices every 1 to 4 hours, depending on the data relay technique used. Data from real-time sites are relayed to USGS offices via satellite, telephone, and/or radio and are available for viewing within minutes of arrival. There are approximately 85 USGS stations in the APNEP region.
USGS tracks surface water quality data parameters for North Carolina and Virginia. USGS continuously (every 15-60 minutes) monitored dissolved-oxygen, salinity, and temperature data are uploaded in real time to the World Wide Web with information for 16 locations throughout eastern North Carolina, including sites on the Roanoke, Pamlico, and Neuse Rivers. New technology also is being used by the USGS to monitor nitrate and chlorophyll a (an indicator of algal biomass) concentrations continuously at two locations in coastal waters in order to better understand the effects of various processes on nitrate levels and the response of algal populations to these changes in nitrate.
USGS has evaluated North Carolina and Virginia aquifers, the former since the 1930s, and has extensive historical groundwater data available. The agency’s Coastal Carolina Project (CCP) supports the collection of groundwater data in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. USGS scientists partner with scientists from Federal and State agencies, and universities to undertake several different types of groundwater research in coastal North Carolina. Each phase of the project has a different group of partners. CCP monitoring activities within the A-P region include Kitty Hawk (2002), Bodie Island (2003), Crystal Coast (2004), and Cove City (2005, 2006).
USGS maintains the Contaminants Exposure and Effects – Terrestrial Vertebrates (CEE-TV) Database. The database contains contaminant exposure and effects information for terrestrial vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles) that reside in estuarine and coastal habitats along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Coasts including Alaska and Hawaii and in the Great Lakes Region. Data are compiled through computerized searches of published literature, reviews of existing databases, and solicitation of unpublished reports from conservation agencies, private groups and universities. As of September 2007 there were 66 and 60 records for the Albemarle and Pamlico Basins respectively.
US National Park Service (NPS) in support of its Coastal Parks Monitoring Program and the multiagency National Coastal Assessment is supporting two water quality monitoring stations within the A-P region since November 2005: one at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the other at Cape Lookout National Seashore (Shackleford Banks). NC-NERR is a partner in the effort by providing station calibration and data management.
Operational Monitoring: State Partners
NC-DENR’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) supports a real-time network of monitoring stations in the three DAQ administrative regions (Raleigh, Washington, Wilmington) that intersect with the A-P region. The following air quality parameters are measured (counties in parentheses): ammonia (Lenoir, Martin, Wake), carbon monoxide (Durham, Wake), continuous PM10 (Wake), continuous PM2.5 (Martin, Wake), ozone (Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Johnston, Lenoir, Martin, Pitt, Wake-2), reactive oxides of nitrogen (Durham, Lenoir, Wake), sulfur dioxide (Beaufort, Edgecombe, Wake).
NC-DENR’s Division of Environmental Health (DEH), Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section, was given the responsibility in 1997 of initiating a recreational water quality monitoring program in the coastal waters of the state. The coastal waters monitored include the ocean beaches, sounds, bays, and estuarine rivers. Waters are tested all year and most often during the times people are likely to be in the water, from May to October. Parameters include Enterococcus bacteria, salinity, and temperature.
Also within DEH, the Compliance Services Branch of the Public Water Supply Section compiles water quality monitoring data furnished by public water suppliers throughout the region as part of the implementation of mandates of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The monitoring requirements vary according to the type of supply system: (1) public water system: provide piped drinking water to at least 15 connections or 25 or more people 60 or more days per year, (2) non-transient non-community water system: provides drinking water to at least twenty-five (25) of the same people at least six months out of the year, and (3) transient non-community water system: provides drinking water to at least twenty-five (25) people (not necessarily the same) at least six months out of the year. Monitoring requirements also depend on whether the source comes from groundwater or surface water. Contaminant groups include asbestos, bacteriological, disinfectants & disinfectant byproducts, inorganic chemicals, lead and copper, nitrate, nitrite, pesticides/synthetic organic chemicals, radionuclides, and volatile organic chemicals.
NC-DENR’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) conducts several fish monitoring programs within the A-P Sounds. Since 1971 the estuarine trawl survey has sampled juvenile fish in May and June at 105 core stations in primary nursery areas. The Pamlico Sound survey samples juveniles in June and September at 50-52 random grid locations in Pamlico Sound, Pamlico River, and Neuse River. Both surveys are independent of commercial and recreational fisheries. The Juvenile Anadromous Survey, from June to October in western and central Albemarle Sound, includes trawl sampling for juvenile striped bass and seine sampling at 11 core stations for juvenile herring and 19 for striped bass.
DMF’s Shellfish Habitat and Abundance Mapping Program is mapping coastal waters to find concentrations of oysters, clams, and scallops and locate areas that are well suited for growing shellfish. For example, the agency has mapped shellfish cluster abundance in Bogue Sound from data collected during the period 1988-1994. Abundance strata polygons were plotted on 1:12,000 scale maps. Other areas mapped to date include areas in Core and Roanoke sounds. No updates are planned.
NC-DENR’s Division of Water Quality (DWQ) monitors aquatic biota and water quality to support North Carolina’s basinwide water quality planning activities. Its Ambient Monitoring Network performs monthly water quality sampling at approximately 420 stations on North Carolina’s 17 river basins. For many stations, a database of results of this information extends back to the 1970's. As of December 2006, 129 stations [White Oak (6) + Neuse (54) + Tar-Pam (36) + Roanoke (7) + Chowan (14) + Pasquotank (12)] are within the APNEP region. Stations are strategically located for the collection of physical and chemical water quality data. Parameters measured (depending on stream class and characteristics) may include dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductance, total phosphorus, ammonia, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, chlorophyll a, nitrate+nitrite, total suspended solids, turbidity, hardness, fecal coliform bacteria, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, and zinc. The following parameters are added for water supply sources: chloride, total dissolved solids, total coliform bacteria, and manganese. DWQ also maintains an Aquatic Toxicity Monitoring program, whereby the results of acute and chronic whole effluent toxicity (WET) tests conducted by NPDES permit holders are compiled.
DWQ’s monitoring of aquatic macrobiota is staggered so that each of the 17 major North Carolina basins is monitored within a five-year window. Within the APNEP region the monitoring years for river basins are the following (publication month in parentheses): White Oak in 1999 (June 2000) and 2004 (April 2005); Neuse in 2000 (November 2001) and 2005 (April 2006) ; Tar-Pamlico in 2002 (April 2003); Roanoke in 1999 (May 2000) and 2004 (April 2005); Chowan in 1995, 2000 (January 2002), and 2005 (April 2006); and Pasquotank in 2000 (January 2002) and 2005 (May 2006). Parameters include benthic macroinvertebrates (Ephemeroptera + Plecoptera + Trichoptera relative abundance) and fish (species composition, abundance, disease, age). DWQ has collected information on fish kills since 1996. The agency has conducted fish tissue surveys since 1991, but in 1999 these surveys shifted from basinwide monitoring to areas that contamination exists or are suspected. DWQ also monitors phytoplankton (chlorophyll a, biovolume, density, dominant algae, Pfiesteria-likes).
DWQ conducted a statewide survey for organic pollutants in NC fish tissue during 2003 and 2004 (August, September, and October of each year) to further assess the character of pesticide contamination throughout the state. Target stations are located as close as possible to exit points of 8-digit hydrologic units statewide. This results in approximately 16 stations within the A-P region. Some stations may be dropped or replaced due to access, however most stations are located on large mainstem waterbodies. One composite sample each of a top predator (largemouth bass) and bottom feeder/omnivore (catfish) will be collected at each station. Each composite sample will be composed of at least five fish of the same species. Target analytes: Fish tissue will be analyzed for chlorinated pesticides, organophosphorus pesticides chlorinated herbicides, PCB’s, PBDE’s arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and selenium. The data could be used to suggest follow-up Tier 2 type studies to further characterize the level and geographic extent of contaminants.
DWQ planned in spring 2003 to monitor 13 sites on the coastal plain for low-level ambient mercury levels. DWQ staff will sample fish, sediment, water, and effluents to determine ambient levels of mercury in surface water and to develop site-specific bioaccumulation factors for fish. The DWQ will continue to monitor mercury levels in commercial and recreational caught marine fish species through a joint effort with DHHS and DMF. Spot, croaker, speckled trout, and bluefish sampling are planned for winter 2002. More species will be assessed as resources allow.
DWQ is monitoring fecal coliform, Escherichia coli and Enterococci bacteria in selected streams of North Carolina that have been placed on the North Carolina Division of Water Quality’s 303(d) list of impaired streams. Sampling methodology will include multiple assessments of five synoptic sampling events within a 30-day time period for approximately ten different stream systems that have been listed on North Carolina’s 303(d) list for bacterial contamination. A second year of assessment (2003) will evaluate an additional 10 stream systems.
DWQ does not monitor wastewater and stormwater discharges. The NPDES and individual stormwater permit limits for each discharger, provided in an appendix to each basinwide plan, is a possible surrogate measure.
DWQ does not monitor sediment for contaminants because there are no sediment standards.
NC-DENR’s Division of Water Resources (DWR) owns and operates groundwater monitoring wells for the State of North Carolina. The Division also maintains a group of wells in cooperation with USGS called the USGS-DENR Cooperative Network. DWR compiles from permitted users quarterly reports of groundwater withdrawls and monitoring of groundwater levels. Permits are required for any users extracting 10,000 gpd in the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area. Outside the CCPCUA area, however, the threshold rises to > 100,000 gpd and > 1 Mgpd for non-agricultural and agricultural uses respectively.
DWR also supplies drought monitoring for the State of North Carolina by providing deviations from the seven-day average streamflow and from ground water levels.
NC-DENR in conjunction with Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science (UNC- IMS), and the NC-DOT Ferry Division commissioned the FerryMon project. FerryMon has equipped three NC ferry vessels to monitor water quality in Pamilico Sound and its tributary rivers. The three ferry routes are Minnesott Beach to Cherry Branch, Cedar Island to Ocracoke Inlet, and Ocracoke to Swan Quarter. Parameters measured every 3 minutes are surface water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and chlorophyll a.
NC Wildlife Resources Commission manages and maintains the NC Colonial Waterbird database,
Operational Monitoring: Local Partners
Dare County, NC’s Surface Water Monitoring Program monitors bacterial and nutrient levels in county waters, and includes stations in Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, as well as marine waters. Parameters include fecal coliform, Enterococcus, and Eschericia coli. Sampling frequency changes with the seasons. From June 1st through Labor Day, all sites are sampled one time per week. From Labor Day through the end of October, and during the month of May, sites are tested two times per month. Sites are tested one time per month, November through April.
USEPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) monitored 6 grid-based sites within the Virginia portion of the A-P region during its 1993-1994 Mid-Atlantic stream survey. EMAP then surveyed 165 sites within North Carolina’s estuaries and rivers during grid-based monitoring of the Carolinian Province during 1994-1997. Monitored parameters included those addressing sediment chemistry, toxicity, grain composition; surface and bottom water quality; benthic species abundance and composition; and demersal fish species length, abundance, composition, and tissue chemistry. EMAP immediately afterward supported the Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA), whose region encompasses that of APNEP, by grid-based monitoring of estuaries and streams during 1997-1998. Within the APNEP region, 68 estuarine and 29 stream sites were monitored once during the two-year period. Monitored estuarine parameters include water quality (physical measurements & nutrients), sediment (grain size, toxicity, chemistry), benthic species (community grain size, abundance, biomass), and fish species (abundance, length & gross pathology, spleen, fish & crab tissue chemistry). MAIA also surveyed agroecosystems during 1994-1995. EMAP then surveyed in 2000 the southeast U.S. coast as part of the National Coastal Assessment.
USFS’ Forest Health Monitoring first monitored the health of North Carolina forests in 1998.
NOAA’s Office of Response & Restoration, working with colleagues in state and federal government, create Environmental Sensitivity Index maps to identify vulnerable coastal locations before a spill happens, so that protection priorities can be established and cleanup strategies identified. The ESI maps for North Carolina include information for three main components: shoreline habitats; sensitive biological resources; and human-use resources. Intertidal habitats were mapped onto 1:24,000 USGS topographic maps by an experienced coastal geologist in January 1996 using a set of 1:800 color vertical aerial photographs from late 1989. Portions of the coast were flown in February 1996 to verify the photo-interpretation. The aerial surveys were carried out using a helicopter, flying at elevations of 300-500 feet and slow air speed. Where appropriate, multiple habitats were delineated for each shoreline segment.