Crossroads


      NEWSLETTER # 99,  November  2002            PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516.  252-726-6663


Director's Editorial: Irving Hooper
[Irv is a founding Director of Crossroads and was its President for many years. His dedication to the goals of Crossroads is an excellent model for citizen involvement in environmental protection.---Ed.]

BOOK REPORT: SAVING THE BAY


Saving the Bay, by Ann and Richard Dorbin (The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2001), details the work of individuals from various walks of life who have, by their individual efforts, contributed to improving the environment of the Chesapeake Bay. Everyone involved in the conservation movement knows of the work of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, other non-profit groups, and the various local, state and federal governmental efforts to bring the Bay back to a healthy state. We do not hear as much about individuals who by their day-to-day actions are contributing to the overall effort to save the bay. This book presents the stories of forty six such individuals with the intention of inspiring all of us to increase our own efforts to preserve the environment in which we live.
The stories range from people who use their technical skills to do special jobs connected to the Bay to those who simply want to do the “right thing” in their day-to-day interaction with the Bay. Before considering some of these stories, it is well to look at some general aspects of the problem. Ten major rivers and innumerable smaller streams feed the Bay from six states and the District of Columbia. There is nine times as much land as water surface in the watershed, all of it contributing to the Bay pollution from the 15 million people living there. As the Bay deteriorated, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was founded in 1967. Governmental efforts began about 1973, resulting in a 1983 report by the EPA that excess nutrients (mostly nitrogen and phosphorus) were largely responsible for the failing health of the Bay. As efforts continue to limit nutrient enrichment, it has become apparent that land use planning and controls must be a major concern if the Bay is to be restored. Meanwhile this book celebrates some individual efforts. A few examples follow.
Lori Sandman still owns the family farm in Pennsylvania and is director of the Environmental Quality Initiative, which encourages on-farm environmental management. The EQI is a multi-agency collaboration developing financial incentives for farmers to implement best management practices and encouraging consumers also to become involved by purchasing farm products with the EQI seal. With these products, part of the purchase price goes to the farmer to pay for environmentally-friendly farm improvements. Her job is to make consumers aware of their role in improving farm practices.
Elizabeth S. Hartwell is a prime example of a long-term citizen activist who has, over a span of 35 years, campaigned tirelessly for the local environment, winning many a battle by working with citizens and government officials alike to fashion good land use policies in the Mason Neck area of Fairfax County. Her secret of success: keep at it and engage the public.
Karen Harris Oertel is owner of a seafood packinghouse and restaurant at Kent Narrows. The packinghouse is the last surviving one of thirteen at Kent Narrows—a good indicator of the decline of the oyster industry in the Chesapeake. She works to restore the oyster through cooperation with the Maryland Oyster Recovery Project which operates oyster hatcheries for gardeners like Oertel, with the aim of increasing by 2005 an oyster population 10 times greater than it was in 1995. The oyster production has fallen from 4 million bushels in the 1940s to 40 thousand in the 90s. She believes strongly in leasing bottom and growing oysters as a way to increase productivity but encounters opposition from watermen, who resist any change in the traditional way of harvesting from public bottom.
Clifford W. Randall is an Environmental and Civil Engineer who has probably done more to reduce nutrient loads in the Bay than any other individual. Working with sewage plants, he has developed the process of biological nutrient removal (BNR), currently used at treatment plants throughout the region. These processes can reduce nitrogen levels in treated wastewater from a norm of 20-30 mg/L to 4-8 mg/L and phosphorous from 7mg/L to 0.2mg/L, in a very cost-effective manner.
These examples and the other stories in this book teach us the following: to maintain the quality of our environment, we must all work at it. There is a place for the individual who restricts fertilizer use on his lawn and recycles his waste, the activist who organizes others to fight for what they see as environmental justice, the local government leader who works for good land use policies, the state employee who diligently enforces the laws and regulations, the developer who understands that long-term profits are maximized by eco-friendly development and the legislator who fights for laws to protect water quality rather than giving in to selfish interests. We all have a job to do—and we can succeed if we all do our job!


Water Quality Monitoring by Ferry in North Carolina and the Nation (FerryMon)

Hans W. Paerl, Kenan Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC 28557. E-Mail: hpaerl@email.unc.edu

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Duke University’s Marine Lab are jointly developing ferry-based water quality monitoring as a regional and national tool for assessing estuarine and coastal ecosystem health. The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System (APES) is North Carolina’ most important aquatic resource, the Nation’s second largest estuary, and supports a large fraction of the Southeastern U.S. fishery, not to mention tourism, recreational and sport fishing. Despite its regional and national importance, APES has not been monitored for water quality and habitat change, even though there are growing concerns about nutrient pollution, declining water quality and fisheries resources, and a projected increase in large storms and hurricanes (i.e., global climate change) impacting this region over the next several decades. APES has the dubious distinction of being this nation’s largest and most resourceful coastal ecosystem about which we know the least. It is critical that a water quality data baseline be established in this system against which to gauge changes in its health. The UNC-CH/Duke/DENR/DOT ferry-based water quality monitoring program, FerryMon, is filling this void by using the ferries as cost-effective data-gathering “ships of opportunity”.

In 2000, following massive flooding that inundated Pamlico Sound due to hurricanes Dennis, Floyd and Irene, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Hurricane Floyd Relief Funds) helped establish a pilot program using NC-DOT’s ferries. The ferries are now keeping a daily pulse on water quality conditions of APES.

The long-term goals of the FerryMon program are to:


How Does FerryMon Work?
Three NC-DOT ferries crossing the Neuse River Estuary and Pamlico Sound are equipped with automated water quality monitoring systems. Ferries include the Cedar Island-Ocracoke (crossing the southern Sound and Ocracoke Inlet), the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke (crossing the central Pamlico Sound), each several times per day, and the Neuse River ferry, which makes 40 crossings per day between Cherry Point and Minnesott Beach, between 5 AM and 1 AM. These strategic crossings cover a broad spectrum of APES water quality conditions, including periodic algal blooms, low oxygen bottom waters, and periodic fish kills.
A flow-thru, automated system continuously monitors surface waters along the ferry route for temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (transparency), chlorophyll (algal growth), and geographic (GPS) position. A discrete sampler collects nutrient and algal composition, organic matter and total suspended solid samples. All this takes place below deck, in the ferries’ sea chest where instrumentation shares a water intake with the ferry’s cooling system. Data are sent to a computer, and at night the data are transmitted via cell phone to the laboratory for processing and use by water quality managers and researchers. A website will soon be established so that schools and the public can observe water quality conditions in APES. A more detailed description of the program can be found at www.ferrymon.org.

FerryMon provides a unique, long-term and cost-effective “real-time” observing system to evaluate status and trends in APES water quality. It is a key source of state and federal agency (NOAA, EPA, NASA) information on which to base current and predictive determinations of coastal water quality, much like the US Weather Service does for regional and local weather. The data will be used to develop a long-term data-base for gauging change and constructing predictive water quality models needed to advise policy, regulatory and management action. For example, a predicted increase in the frequency and severity of hurricanes combined with sea level rise is likely to change APES in every respect, natural and man-made, and assessment of this change will largely be dependent on the data produced by FerryMon. This information is pertinent to understanding short- and long-term human impacts on water quality and fisheries habitat resources. It is also essential for establishing a long-term database against which to gauge ecological and fisheries resource change due to climate change (i.e., global warming, sea level rise and increasing frequencies of hurricanes). Lastly, this system will be used to provide real-time, ground-truthing data for calibration of aircraft and satellite-based remote sensing of estuarine and coastal productivity and health, both regionally and nationally.

Crossroads News

Crossroads derives its income exclusively from membership dues. This income has declined significantly over the past year while our expenses continue to increase. Most of our costs are from publishing and distributing this Newsletter; the rest come from expenses associated with holding our Annual Meeting, subscription to an environmental information service, and membership in a few relevant organizations (e.g., North Carolina Coastal Federation).
Our membership list continues to grow, so we conclude that our loss of income is due to inattention to membership renewal rather than to loss of interest in Crossroads. Please check your Newsletter's mailing label. The first line indicates your membership status, or whether you are receiving a complimentary copy or a free copy. If your membership has lapsed, please renew soon. If you are current, thank you.