CISNet for the Neuse River Estuary, NC: A Program for Evaluating Nitrogen Driven Eutrophication Associated with Changing Land Use in a Coastal WatershedEPA Grant Number: R826938
Title: CISNet for the Neuse River Estuary, NC: A Program for Evaluating Nitrogen Driven Eutrophication Associated with Changing Land Use in a Coastal Watershed
Investigators: Luettich Jr., Richard A. , Paerl, Hans , Pinckney, Jay
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2001
Project Amount: $555,300
RFA: Ecological Effects of Environmental Stressors Using Coastal Intensive Sites (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water Quality , Aquatic Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
Description:Among estuarine and coastal water quality and fisheries habitat issues facing the Nation, none are as evident and of immediate concern as anthropogenically-driven eutrophication. The Neuse River Estuary has been the focus of recent outbreaks of nuisance algal blooms, hypoxia, toxicity and fish kills associated with declining water quality. In 1995 and 96 the Neuse attained the notoriety of being listed as one of the Nation's 20 most threatened rivers and in 1997 it was listed as one of the Nation's most polluted rivers, (American Rivers Foundation 1995-97). It is generally believed that increased nitrogen loading associated with human population growth and changes in land use in its water- and air-shed in the past two decades is responsible for these unwanted symptoms of eutrophication.
In response to mounting scientific evidence and public pressure, in 1989 the State of North Carolina designated the Neuse as "nutrient-sensitive" while in 1997 reductions in nitrogen loading and the development of a "nutrient response model" to be used as a tool for managing future nutrient loading were legislated. As a result of the legislation, a 30 per cent nitrogen reduction on both point and nonpoint sources over the next 5 years is being sought. Thus the Neuse represents an ideal "experimental" system for intensive monitoring and research over the coming decade because it presently exhibits clear indications of detrimental ecological responses to anthropogenic nutrient stresses and because a nutrient reduction plan will be implemented over this period of time that will provide a unique opportunity to observe the ecological responses to decreasing anthropogenic nutrient stress.
The objective of our CISNet proposal is to build upon the historical water quality data base that extends over the past 20 years in the Neuse River Estuary and to enhance and expand the monitoring and process based research that is currently ongoing in the Neuse. A number of these ongoing projects have been coordinated during the past year under the Neuse River Modeling and Monitoring Program, MODMON, which is being directed by the P.I.s.