Determine Baseline and Sources of Toxic Contaminant Loadings
USGS will conduct new water quality analyses for toxic substances in water and develop loads for streams tributary to the Great Lakes following the National Monitoring Network design.
Sediment traps were installed at 15 AOC (Areas of Concern) sites. The sediment was analyzed for over 150 constituents including PAHs, total PCBs, and pharmaceuticals.
At 59 tributary monitoring sites:
- Passive sampling devices were installed, including POCIS (Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Sampler) samplers that monitor hydrophilic contaminants which could be potentially endocrine disrupting or acutely toxic. SPMD (Semi-permeable membrane devices ) designed to mimic biological membranes, such as the gills of fish.
- Water Samples for mercury and organic contaminants were collected at time of installation and a second sample was collected in the summer of 2011. Chemicals of emerging concerns At 17 tributary monitoring sites, samples are collected monthly and during events and analyzed for for chemicals of emerging concern (PPCP - pharmaceuticals and personal care products). These sites are a mix of land use including agricultural, urban and reference conditions. Ten of the sites are at AOCs.
Information on the occurrence and distribution of contaminants is needed to provide baseline information, measure progress towards restoration goals, and to assess new threats. Additional information is needed to provide an understanding of how contaminants reach the Great Lakes, and where they come from, so that the effects of future actions can be assessed and predicted.
The USGS will expand tributary monitoring according to the National Monitoring Network for Coastal Waters design. This project will include:
- Contaminant and virus monitoring using automated, passive, surrogate, and manual sampling;
- The development of watershed models throughout the Great Lakes.
The monitoring effort will help to make progress towards more complete implementation of the Great Lakes National Monitoring Network (NMN) for Coastal Waters tributary design and will include sampling in some embayments and drowned river mouths where tributaries discharge. This effort will be built on the ongoing USGS monitoring of these components and coordinated with proposals submitted to the EPA as part of the GLRI granting process.
The modeling effort is designed to create a model or set of models that can be used throughout the Great Lakes Basin to estimate flow, contaminant loads, and the effects of individual basins on the ecological well-being of the Great Lakes. The focus of this modeling effort would be to (1) provide a more detailed understanding of the hydrologic and water-quality processes in the basin at a scale not possible with a large-scale or non-process oriented model, and (2) identify sets of runoff and water-quality parameter values for the “representative” modeled basins that can be transferred to and used in basins with similar geological and hydrologic characteristics.
This information will provide baseline information, provide support for measuring restoration progress, and model potential load changes throughout the Great Lakes. This effort will be coordinated with the EPA, COE, FWS, States and other monitoring and modeling entities.