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DRBC Staff Gearing Up for 2016 Summer Monitoring Season

The commission’s water quality monitoring programs are a key part to its overall strategy to manage and maintain the Delaware River Basin’s water resources. These monitoring efforts are important because water resources cannot be properly managed if they are not measured. The commission’s monitoring programs help to protect and restore water quality in the basin by providing a mechanism to evaluate how water quality criteria are being met and allow for data to be assessed.

DRBC staff are gearing up for a busy summer water quality monitoring season. Staff will be active in the field sampling the Delaware River and various tributaries to support the following monitoring programs:

Boat Run Survey

  • DRBC collaborating with Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to collect water samples from Delaware Estuary at 22 locations once a month for 7 months (April through October). 
  • Standard measurements of physical/chemical water quality parameters will be conducted at each location in addition to sample collection. 
  • Samples will be analyzed for bacteria, heavy metals, nutrients, algae, tritium, gross alpha, and gross beta emitters. 
  • The purpose of the survey is to the assess Estuary Water Quality for metals, bacteria, eutrophication, and conventional parameters. 
  • Bacterial data are posted on the DRBC web site monthly at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/quality/datum/ambient/index.html.
  • The results from the yearly Boat Run surveys are compiled into an interactive program called the “Boat Run Explorer” application. Learn more at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/quality/datum/ambient/explorer-app.html.

 Delaware Estuary Tributary Nutrient Monitoring 

  • Tributary nutrient load estimates were evaluated using USGS SPARROW model DSS system. 
  • Nutrient monitoring will be performed to refine these estimates for all nutrient species. 
  • 10 different Delaware Estuary tributary sites will be sampled four times throughout the year to assess nutrient loadings.  

Fish Tissue Monitoring

  • To protect human health, fish tissue samples will be collected at 3 sites in Delaware Bay and coastal waters under the DRBC Criteria-Based Program to update fish consumption advisories. 
  • Two species of fish will be collected at each site that represent resident benthic and pelagic trophic levels:
    • In tidal waters: white perch and channel catfish
    • In non-tidal waters: white sucker and smallmouth bass
  • Parameters to be analyzed will include various forms of mercury, PCBs, chlorinated pesticides, dioxins/furans, PFCs, and metals such as: arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, selenium, and zinc.

Scenic Rivers Monitoring Program 

  • DRBC and National Park Service (NPS) partner in an effort to monitor and manage water quality in the non-tidal Delaware River Watershed as part of the Special Protection Waters program. 
  • DRBC’s Special Protection Waters program is designed to assess and prevent degradation of conditions where existing water quality is better than the established water quality standards. 
  • DRBC will complete a Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (LDEL) assessment of measureable change as part of the DRBC Anti-degradation Program. 
  • Sampling will occur from May through September, with a total of 10 samples from 13 sites:
    • Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (LDEL): 6 sampling sites
    • Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (UPDE) and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA): 7 sampling sites       

PCB Monitoring

  • Sediment grab samples at 60 sites in the Delaware Estuary (Water Quality Zones 2-6) will be analyzed for PCBs and dioxins/furans under a DRBC Criteria-Based Program for PCBs to protect human health.
  • In addition to analyses for PCBs and dioxins/furans, sediment samples from 15 sites will be analyzed for Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). 
  • Ambient water samples will also be collected at 22 tributary locations at the head of tide and will be analyzed for particulate and dissolved PCBs, Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Particulate Organic Carbon (POC), and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC). 
  • The results from this study will help assess progress on the PCB TMDLs.
  • Learn more about PCBs: http://www.nj.gov/drbc/quality/toxics/pcbs/.

Ambient Toxicity 

  • Sampling in Slaughter Creek and Prime Hook Creek in cooperation with DNREC’s WATAR program (Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration)
  • Ambient surveys will be performed at 4 sites in each creek using short-term chronic toxicity tests.