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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution CLEAN COASTAL WATERS Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution Committee on the Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication Ocean Studies Board and Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW • Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report and the committee were supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Clean coastal waters : understanding and reducing the effects of nutrient pollution / Ocean Studies Board and Water Science and Technology Board, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-06948-3 (casebound) 1. Nutrient pollution of water—United States. 2. Marine eutrophication—United States. 3. Coastal zone management—Government policy—United States. 4. Water quality management—Government policy—United States. 5. Watershed management—Government policy—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Ocean Studies Board. II. National Research Council (U.S.). Water Science and Technology Board. TD427.N87 C58 2000 363.739'4--dc21 00-009621 Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution is available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Box 285, Washington, DC 20055 (1-800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 in the Washington metropolitan area; Internet: http://www.nap.edu). Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Science National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution COMMITTEE ON THE CAUSES AND MANAGEMENT OF COASTAL EUTROPHICATION ROBERT W. HOWARTH (Chair), Cornell University, Ithaca, New York DONALD M. ANDERSON, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts THOMAS M. CHURCH, University of Delaware, Newark HOLLY GREENING, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, St. Petersburg, Florida CHARLES S. HOPKINSON, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts WAYNE C. HUBER, Oregon State University, Corvallis NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee ROBERT J. NAIMAN, University of Washington, Seattle KATHLEEN SEGERSON, University of Connecticut, Storrs ANDREW N. SHARPLEY, U.S. Department of Agriculture, University Park, Pennsylvania WILLIAM J. WISEMAN, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Staff DAN WALKER, Study Director, OSB CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Program Officer, WSTB JODI BACHIM, Project Assistant, OSB
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution OCEAN STUDIES BOARD KENNETH BRINK (Chair), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts ARTHUR BAGGEROER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge DAN BROMLEY, University of Wisconsin, Madison OTIS BROWN, University of Miami, Florida JAMES COLEMAN, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge CORT COOPER, Chevron Petroleum Technology, San Ramon, California G. BRENT DALRYMPLE, Oregon State University, Corvallis EARL DOYLE, Shell Oil (Retired), Sugar Land, Texas D. JAY GRIMES, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs RAY HILBORN, University of Washington, Seattle EDWARD HOUDE, University of Maryland, Solomons CINDY LEE, State University of New York, Stony Brook ROGER LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Manoa NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee BONNIE MCCAY, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey RAM MOHAN, Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland SCOTT NIXON, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett NANCY RABALAIS, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Chauvin WALTER SCHMIDT, Florida Geological Survey, Tallahassee PAUL TOBIN, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Fairfax, Virginia KARL TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Staff MORGAN GOPNIK, Director EDWARD R. URBAN, JR., Senior Program Officer DAN WALKER, Senior Program Officer ALEXANDRA ISERN, Program Officer SUSAN ROBERTS, Program Officer ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Associate SHIREL SMITH, Office Manager SHARI MAGUIRE, Research Assistant ANN CARLISLE, Senior Project Assistant JODI BACHIM, Project Assistant MEGAN KELLY, Project Assistant
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD HENRY J. VAUX, JR. (Chair), Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Oakland CAROL A. JOHNSTON (Vice-Chair), University of Minnesota, Duluth RICHELLE ALLEN-KING, Washington State University, Pullman GREGORY BAECHER, University of Maryland, College Park JOHN S. BOYER, University of Delaware, Lewes JOHN BRISCOE, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. DENISE FORT, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque STEVEN GLOSS, University of Wyoming, Laramie WILLIAM A. JURY, University of California, Riverside GARY S. LOGSDON, Black & Veatch, Cincinnati, Ohio RICHARD G. LUTHY, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JOHN W. MORRIS, J.W. Morris Ltd., Arlington, Virginia PHILIP A. PALMER, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Wilmington, Delaware REBECCA T. PARKIN, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. JOAN B. ROSE, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg R. RHODES TRUSSELL, Montgomery Watson, Pasadena, California ERIC F. WOOD, Princeton University, New Jersey Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director LAURA EHLERS, Senior Program Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Program Officer JEFFREY JACOBS, Senior Program Officer WILLIAM LOGAN, Program Officer MARK GIBSON, Research Associate JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Associate PATRICIA JONES, Study/Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Administrative Assistant ELLEN DE GUZMAN, Senior Project Assistant ANIKE JOHNSON, Project Assistant
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER (Chair), University of Virginia, Charlottesville RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (Retired), S. Charleston, West Virginia LYNN GOLDMAN, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut THOMAS J. GRAFF, Environmental Defense Fund, Oakland, California EUGENIA KALNAY, University of Maryland, College Park DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. BRAD MOONEY, J. Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd., Arlington, Virginia HUGH C. MORRIS, El Dorado Gold Corporation, Vancouver, British Columbia H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens MILTON RUSSELL, Joint Institute for Energy and Environment and University of Tennessee (Emeritus), Knoxville ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado ANDREW R. SOLOW, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California Staff ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Associate Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer DAVID FEARY, Scientific Reports Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution Preface The National Research Council exists to provide independent scientific advice to the nation, and in particular to help federal agencies with guidance on how best to address significant or controversial problems and make wise use of science in their programs and activities. Sometimes, the topics of study are narrow and the advice is targeted at a specific program. But more often, and perhaps more importantly, a study will focus on a complex issue and the committee will need to synthesize significant (and at times contradictory) information, and then provide clear, practical conclusions and recommendations—recommendations that will make a real difference in solving the problem at hand. The NRC’s Committee on Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication conducted exactly this type of nationally important study. Accelerated eutrophication is a real threat to the nation’s coastal waters: for instance, eutrophication-caused oxygen-poor waters on the inner continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico can extend over an area as great as 20,000 km2. It has major impacts, from economic losses associated with reduced fisheries to potential human health impacts, and is likely to increase in severity as nutrient loading from upstream sources increases as a result of continuing urbanization, deforestation, agriculture, and atmospheric deposition. Given that the population in U.S. coastal communities now exceeds 141 million (over half of the U.S. population) and that 17 of the 20 fastest growing counties are located along the coast, nutrient pollution is certainly a national priority requiring attention.
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution But it is the kind of diffuse, complex problem that prohibits easy answers. It can be addressed best by coordinated actions at many levels—local, state, regional, and national. And success depends on having a solid scientific understanding of the causes of the problem and the full range of possible management alternatives. To provide advice to federal, state, and local government agencies charged with addressing the growing problems associated with nutrient pollution and eutrophication, the National Research Council (NRC) charged the Committee on the Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication to review current knowledge of watershed, estuarine, and coastal processes and their roles in eutrophication; assess past and ongoing efforts to monitor and assess water quality on a variety of scales; and address barriers to implementation of effective management practices and regulatory strategies for preventing and reducing nutrient enrichment and its effects. In essence, the committee was asked to recommend actions that could provide a basis for improving strategies for watershed management to reduce coastal eutrophication in the future. The committee was composed of 11 members with expertise in estuarine biology, aquatic and freshwater ecology, watershed management, environmental engineering, chemistry, agricultural science, economics, and other related fields. The study was funded with contributions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, and Electric Power Research Institute. To conduct this study, the committee met six times to gather information, talk at length with other experts in the fields, deliberate, and write its report. Special effort was made to get input from regional scientific experts and managers in eutrophication-related programs to gain a practical view of the problems faced. In an effort to better understand the challenges facing local managers, the committee conducted a series of detailed interviews with local, state, and federal managers and scientists responsible for addressing nutrient over-enrichment in 18 estuaries around the country. Given the technical complexity of the problem and the myriad players who have a role in addressing it, considerable thought was given to who the potential audiences of the report may be and how best to convey the findings and recommendations to this diverse group. We identified four main audiences: 1) coastal and watershed managers—these individuals directly or indirectly influence coastal ecosystems, whether by formulating strategies to deal with local or regional problems or through the various permitting responsibilities they often have. Thus their decisions affect significant sectors of local and state economies, and these decisions cannot be put off until greater information or scientific understanding can be obtained. 2) Scientists—these individuals conduct
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution research that may provide greater understanding and possible solutions to many of the problems facing resource managers. 3) Federal agencies—these organizations are often placed in support or oversight roles as the federal government attempts to enable or ensure that local and state entities are able to address environmental problems effectively and for the national good. And 4) Congress and the Executive Branch—these entities directly influence the legal and administrative powers given to federal agencies as well as the fiscal and human resources needed to implement recommendations. These four audiences vary greatly in their level of technical acumen. Thus the report has been essentially divided into three parts. The first section, which includes Chapters 1 and 2, provides an introduction to the topic and a summary of the committee’s findings and recommendations, and is intended for a non-technical audience. The second section, which includes Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6, provides detailed technical information on the nature of nutrient over-enrichment and its sources, effects, and the relative susceptibility of different types of systems. The third section, which includes Chapter 7, 8, and 9, addresses abatement strategies. This report is the result of the committee’s extensive efforts, and I would like to thank the committee’s members for their hard work, patience, and cooperation. I would also like to offer thanks to the large number of people—local managers, state agency personnel, federal agency personnel, and others—who provided information and insights to the committee. The committee could not have done its job without this assistance. In particular, the committee would like to thank Suzanne Bricker, David Brock, Jim Cloern, David Davis, Scott Dawson, David Flemer, Jonathan Garber, Robert Goldstein, Jack Kelly, Brian Lapointe, Peggy Lehman, Tom Malone, Karen McGlathery, Paul Orlando, Glenn Patterson, Donald Scavia, and John Sowles. For the committee, I would also like to thank the NRC staff who supported our efforts, Jodi Bachim, Chris Elfring, Kirstin Rohrer, Kate Schafer, Dan Walker, and Jennifer Wright. In accordance with NRC report review policies, this report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. This independent review provided candid and critical comments that assisted the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and ensured that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of the report: Larry P. Atkinson (Old Dominion University), James Baker (Iowa State University), Donald F. Boesch (University of Maryland), John
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution Boland (Johns Hopkins University), Scott Dawson (California Regional Water Quality Control Board), Thomas J. Graff (Environmental Defense Fund), Alan Krupnick (Resources for the Future), Pamela A. Matson (Stanford University), Hans Paerl (University of North Carolina), Nancy Rabalais (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium), and Larry Roesner (Colorado State University). While these people provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC. Bob Howarth, Chair, Committee on the Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution Contents Executive Summary 1 I Introduction and Overview 11 1 Understanding Nutrient Over-Enrichment: An Introduction 13 Nutrient Over-Enrichment in Coastal Waters, 14 Purpose of This Study, 16 Why Is Nutrient Over-Enrichment a Problem?, 20 2 Combating Nutrient Over-Enrichment: Findings and Recommendations 37 Developing a Nationwide Strategy to Address Nutrient Over-Enrichment, 38 A Recommended Approach for Local Managers, 42 Recommended Federal Actions, 51 II Understanding the Problem 63 3 Which Nutrients Matter? 65 Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Estuaries and Lakes, 66 Evidence for Nitrogen Limitation in Coastal Marine Ecosystems, 67
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution Mechanisms That Lead to Nitrogen Limitation in Coastal Marine Ecosystems, 72 The Importance of Silica and Iron in Coastal Systems, 81 4 What Are the Effects of Nutrient Over-Enrichment? 84 Ecological Effects, 85 Economic Impacts, 103 5 Sources of Nutrient Inputs to Estuaries and Coastal Waters 113 Wastewater and Nonpoint Source Inputs, 119 Disturbance, Nonpoint Nutrient Fluxes, and Baselines for Nutrient Exports from Pristine Systems, 121 Changes in Agricultural Production and Nonpoint Source Nutrient Pollution, 124 Processing of Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Wetlands, Streams, and Rivers, 139 Nutrient Fluxes to the Coast, 141 Insights from the SPARROW Model Applied to the National Scale, 147 Nutrient Budgets for Specific Estuaries and Coastal Waters, 150 Oceanic Waters as a Nutrient Source to Estuaries and Coastal Waters, 156 Implications for Achieving Source Reductions, 160 6 What Determines Susceptibility to Nutrient Over-Enrichment? 163 Major Factors Influencing Estuarine Susceptibility to Nutrient Over-Enrichment, 164 Coastal Classification, 176 Geomorphic Classification, 177 Hydrodynamic Classification, 177 Habitat Classification, 178 Hybrid Classification, 181 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service Classification Schemes, 182 Next Steps, 187 Additional Questions, 191
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution III Understanding Abatement Strategies 195 7 The Role of Monitoring and Modeling 197 Introduction to Monitoring, 201 Elements of an Effective Monitoring Program, 202 Developing Quantitative Measures of Estuarine Conditions, 208 Developing Quantitative Measures of Watershed Conditions, 210 Controlling Costs, 213 Introduction to Modeling, 214 Watershed Management Models, 225 Estuarine and Coastal Models, 227 Other Relevant Models, 230 Recommendations, 233 8 Water Quality Goals 237 Setting Goals, 239 Choosing a Policy Approach, 247 Steps in Developing Effective Water Quality Goals, 265 9 Source Reduction and Control 269 Agricultural Sources, 270 Atmospheric Sources, 288 Urban Sources, 293 Other Mitigation Options, 302 Next Steps for Source Reduction, 308 References 311 Appendixes A Statement of Task and Committee and Staff Biographies 349 B Acronyms and Abbreviations 353 C Programmatic Approaches and Results of a Local Managers Questionnaire 356 Representative Federal Programs, 357 Federal Monitoring and Assessment Programs, 362 Management Strategies Addressing Coastal Eutrophication, 368 Results of a Managers Questionnaire, 368
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Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution D Model Reviews 376 Watershed Models, 376 Process Models, 377 Spreadsheet Models, 382 Statistical Approaches, 382 Estuarine and Coastal Eutrophication Models, 384 E Related Websites 392 Index 395