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National Monitoring Network for U.S. Coastal Waters and Tributaries

Demonstration Areas

Map of NMN demonstration areasIn 2012, two new demonstration areas were started as the original 3 demonstration areas completed their work:

Albemarle Sound is a shallow, low-salinity, high-turbidity estuary in North Carolina. Freshwater inputs dominate this lagoonal estuary system that is separated from the ocean by a chain of barrier islands.

The Albemarle Sound supports several important commercial and recreational fisheries, but current populations are well below historic levels for many species. Several portions of the Sound, including the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers, were recently nominated as strategic habitat areas for these fisheries. Managers are concerned about contaminants in the water, sediment, and biota in these strategic habitat areas. Additionally, an understanding is needed of the ecological effects that may result as the sea-level rises in this low-lying system.

Puget Sound, WA, is the second largest estuary in the United States and its unique geology, climate, and nutrient-rich waters sustain biologically-productive terrestrial, coastal, and marine habitats. Development and associated human activities have significantly degraded the Sound, causing declines in fish and wildlife populations, water-quality issues, and losses of critical habitats. Restoration of Puget Sound is recognized as an urgent national priority, resulting in multiple restoration programs coordinated by the Puget Sound Partnership.

The USGS is developing a coastal monitoring Network for Puget Sound that meets the goals of the National Water Quality Monitoring Network for U.S. Coastal Waters and their Tributaries, while also being well aligned with existing Federal and cooperative monitoring efforts in the region. To address known data gaps concerning sediment and toxic chemical loads to Puget Sound from large rivers, the USGS has developed and is implementing a protocol for rapid stream-side deployment of continuous-flow centrifuges to collect suspended sediment from large volumes of water for chemical analysis.

Original Demonstration Areas

Beginning in 2008, additional monitoring was initiated in the three demonstration areas to fill in gaps needed to address water-quality issues, funded by USGS in support of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan, as well as through parternerships with local, state, regional, and federal organizations. Selected highlights include: