Exterior Monitoring 101
WHAT IS THE EXTERIOR MONITORING PROGRAM?
In addition to the monitoring efforts required by the WQC issued by MDE, exterior monitoring of the Pearce Creek DMCF will be voluntarily conducted by MDOT MPA. Exterior monitoring ensures that the environmental conditions surrounding the DMCF remain unaffected by the water being discharged from the facility. MDOT MPA has ongoing exterior monitoring programs in place at other DMCFs throughout the Chesapeake Bay, including Hart-Miller Island, Masonville and Cox Creek. To date, the exterior monitoring results have demonstrated no significant changes to the environmental conditions surrounding the HMI, Cox Creek and Masonville DMCFs associated with the operation of the facility. The purpose of the exterior monitoring efforts is to provide reassurance that the environmental conditions surrounding the Pearce Creek DMCF are not being negatively impacted by the waters discharged from the facility.
WHAT IS BEING MONITORED?
The Pearce Creek DMCF exterior monitoring program includes: water and sediment quality, benthic community (i.e. organisms which live on or in the sediment of the seabed) composition, and sediment toxicity. Ten sampling stations have been selected: six stations in the Pearce Creek Lake, two stations in the Elk River, and a reference station in both the lake and river.
HOW WILL MONITORING OCCUR?
Samples will be collected twice a year, in the spring and fall. The fall 2015 and spring 2016 sampling will provide a baseline that all future monitoring will be compared to. From this data it will be possible to determine if any changes in environmental conditions are occurring. Fall sampling will be conducted prior to the first dredged material inflow event of the year (October 1st) and spring sampling activities will be conducted after the dredging season is closed (March 31st). Dredging inflow at the Pearce Creek DMCF will not begin until the fall of 2017.
Monitoring will occur as follows:
- Water quality samples will be collected from up to eight sampling stations and analyzed for metals, nutrients, temperature, pH, salinity, total suspended solids, and dissolved oxygen (DO).
- Sediment samples will be collected at each sampling station and analyzed for metals, nutrients, moisture content, grain size, and specific gravity. Using a grab sampler, undisturbed sediments will be collected at 0-6 inches below the sediment-water interface. A physical description of the sediments will be recorded in the field as well.
- Benthic samples will be collected at each sampling station to characterize the surrounding benthic community.
- Sediment will also be analyzed for toxicity using an acute10-day EPA Sediment Toxicity Test, which is helpful to monitor if sediment “dead zones” are being created – places where organisms cannot survive. Undisturbed samples at the sediment-water interface will be collected using a grab sampler.
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