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7 Conclusions and Recommendations CONCLUSIONS Current Monitoring Effort 1. Ale total amount of money and effort expended by public utilities, private industry, and government agencies in monitoring of water quality, natural resources, and public health in the Southern California Bight is ex- traordinarily large. A conservative estimate is that current annual expenses for monitoring far exceed $17 million (see Chapter 4~. 2. Most water quality monitoring programs are organized around the outfalls of several large coastal municipal wastewater treatment plants and electric power generating stations and are elaborately detailed in their requirements. 3. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (Cal- COFI) for natural marine resources in the California Current system and Southern California Bight has been unparalleled among marine resource monitoring programs in terms of its commitment to a long-term time-series assessment. However, station coverage has been reduced by budget cuts. 4. Significant sources of chemical and microbial contaminants con- tained in riverine and stormwater discharges to the bight have not been adequately monitored as part of the marine monitoring system in the bight. 142

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143 Lack of Program Integration 5. There are no formal institutional mechanisms for integrating the findings from the different ongoing monitoring programs. This means that there is no mechanism for integrating the results from monitoring of various point sources with each other or with the findings of the resource or public health monitoring programs. 6. There is no system for interrelating the findings of various moni- toring programs to present a coherent picture of the whole. This precludes evaluating the human impacts of bightwide human inputs in the context of natural variability, and thus it is difficult to evaluate whether corrective actions are effective. 7. There currently is no effective system for reporting findings of monitoring programs to the public, the scientific community, or policy makers. 8. The monitoring programs in specific permits have been designed to address small-scale discrete questions with little attention paid to the overall question of the status of natural resources and water quality of the Southern California Bight as a whole. 9. In the past, there have been recommendations for bightwide water quality, public health, and natural resource monitoring programs. These recommendations have not been implemented. RECOMMENDATIONS A Regional Approach 10. The questions of bightwide inputs and their impacts are growing in importance. Many of them could be addressed in a regional monitoring program. A regional program should be established that: addresses specific questions about the current environmental con- dition of the bight and the resources therein, including those associated with public health impacts, spatial and temporal trends in natural resources, nonpoint source and riverine contributions, nearshore habitat changes, and cumulative or areawide impacts of large and small point and nonpoint source inputs; incorporates standardized sampling, analysis, and data management methods; establishes a comprehensive data base management system for all monitoring and resource data in the bight, which could provide access to the historic and current data needed to perform comprehensive and bightwide analyses;

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144 can be facilitated through the coordination of local, state, and federal entities, which integrate their regulatory, data, and management needs and responsibilities to optimize the utilization of available resources; can be achieved largely through coordination, integration, and modification of existing efforts, rather than through the addition of another layer of monitoring in the bight; can be developed to involve the public and the scientific community as participants in the program; includes built-in mechanisms to ensure that its conclusions are effectively communicated to the public, the scientific community, and reg- ulatory agencies; and includes mechanisms to require periodic review and to allow easy alteration or redirection of monitoring efforts when they are justified, based on the results of the monitoring or new information from other sources. The effort to develop a regional program will need to address the needs of the agencies and parties involved in monitoring; synthesis of existing data and information in order to construct meaningful questions and null hy- potheses; drafting of an organizational framework; drafting of a monitoring program; and allocating the financial resources required to carry out the program. If properly implemented, the benefits and the costs of a regional monitoring program can be shared by all sectors of society. However, it should also be noted that a regional approach ultimately has to consider the effects of competing uses on land, water, and air quality, and tradeoffs between short- and long-term costs and benefits.