DRBC Water Quality Newsletter

July 2015


DRBC's Summer Water Quality Monitoring Season in Full Swing

You can't manage what you don't measure. This tenet is the basis of DRBC's water quality monitoring programs, which play a key role in the commission's management of the Delaware River's water resources.

DRBC regulates the waters of the basin through established water quality criteria that protect both human health and aquatic life. DRBC's monitoring programs provide a mechanism to evaluate whether the criteria are being met.

DRBC's summer 2015 water quality monitoring efforts are underway, with staff actively sampling the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, and various tributaries to support the following programs:


Scenic Rivers Monitoring Program

DRBC and the National Park Service (NPS) partner in this effort to monitor and manage the water quality in the Special Protection Waters and National Wild and Scenic River segments of the non-tidal Delaware River. The goals are to assess whether the exceptional water quality of these waters is being maintained.

NPS staff lead the monitoring programs in the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and DRBC staff are in charge of the Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River program.

Close to 60 sites are sampled between May and September and analyzed for nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and other conventional pollutants.

Learn more by clicking here.


Delaware River Biomonitoring Program

This DRBC program assesses ecosystem health and function in the non-tidal Delaware River. 

Between August and September, macroinvertebrate (aquatic bugs) and periphyton (alga) samples are collected at 25 sites from Hancock, N.Y. to just above the head of tide at Trenton, N.J. Habitat characteristics are also documented in order to provide a complete overview of the diversity and health of the aquatic life community. 

Learn more by clicking here


Delaware Estuary Boat Run Monitoring Program

Initiated in 1967, this effort is one of the longest running monitoring programs in the world. Each year from April to October, DRBC contracts with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to collect and analyze water samples at 22 sites in the Delaware Estuary from the head of tide at Trenton, N.J. to the mouth of the Delaware Bay. 

Sample analysis includes routine and bacterial parameters, nutrients, and heavy metals.

Learn more by clicking here.    


Fish Tissue Monitoring

DRBC samples tissue of resident fish species every three years at 3-4 sites in the main stem of the non-tidal river and at 5-6 sites in the Delaware Estuary and Bay. 

In the non-tidal portion, samples of smallmouth bass and white sucker are collected. In the estuary and bay, samples of channel catfish and white perch are collected. The samples are analyzed for PCBs, pesticides, and other chemicals, as well as metals.

Learn more by clicking here.


Ambient Water Monitoring for PCBs

PCBs are present in the waters of the Delaware Estuary at concentrations up to 1,000x higher than the water quality criteria. Because these high levels of PCBs have resulted in state-issued fish consumption advisories for certain species caught in the Delaware Estuary, these waters were and continue to be listed as impaired, requiring the establishment of a PCB total maximum daily load (TMDL).

To support the PCB TMDLs for the Delaware Estuary and Bay, DRBC staff will collect ambient water samples to provide data on PCB concentrations in the tidal portions of the Delaware River, and the effectiveness of PCB reduction efforts required under the TMDLs. These surveys are conducted every three to five years.

Learn more by clicking here.


Ambient Toxicity Monitoring with DNREC

In 2015, DRBC monitoring staff will collaborate with DNREC on the department's Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration (WATAR) for the Christina River Watershed, collecting samples for ambient water toxicity.

Learn more by visiting http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/dwhs/SIRB/Pages/WATAR.aspx.


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Last Modified: 07/15/2015