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DNR And Chester River Association Introduce New Water Quality Monitoring Devices On Chester River

CHESTERTOWN, MD (September 16, 2003) - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Chester River Association (CRA) today introduced two shallow water monitoring technologies to provide continuous water quality data and mapping of the Chester River.

Data collected by two continuous monitoring buoys will create a picture of how water quality varies in time on the river, giving scientists expanded knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a whole. One of the buoys contains telemetry equipment that transmits data every hour via cellular technology to DNR’s Eyes on the Bay website, http://www.eyesonthebay.net Information from the second buoy is downloaded on a weekly schedule.

The buoy data will help identify acute events – (like Hurricane Isabel) short but intense changes in water quality that can be extremely stressful for fish, crabs and Bay grasses — while water quality mapping will reveal conditions throughout the large areas of the river.

Information collected every 15 minutes from the buoys will be available to residents via the Eyes on the Bay website. The two buoys on the Chester River brings a total of 22 continuous monitoring sites in the Chesapeake Bay and two in the Coastal Bay waters. The exact location of the new buoys is not being made public out of respect of the privacy of the property owners.

“The data provided by these monitoring buoys will be essential to our ability to protect Bay grasses, a critically important component of our overall goal to restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said C. Ronald Franks, Secretary, DNR. “Abundant Bay grasses help prevent shore erosion by reducing wave action, provide nursery and habitat for numerous bay creatures, and introduce life saving oxygen into the Bay.”

Site selection was determined by DNR with the help of the Chester River Association; the installation of the buoys expands the Associations’ previous monitoring methods.

Each buoy uses an YSI 6600 instrument to measure pH, temperature, salinity, turbidity (water clarity), dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll. DNR visits both sites each week to retrieve data, clean the equipment and collect additional information and water samples to be analyzed for nitrogen and phosphorus, the two main chemicals involved in nutrient pollution.

“I receive calls everyday from citizens reporting fish kills, algae blooms and foul-smelling water in the Chester. To improve the health of our river we must take steps and make decisions based on scientific data. These buoys will provide critical information about the River’s condition,” said Dr. Eileen McLellen, Chester Riverkeeper.

Data from the buoys has already helped McLellan and DNR scientists better understand this year’s fish kills and algae blooms on the river by measuring dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll provides an indication of the amount of algae in the water. Potentially harmful blue-green algal blooms have been prevalent in many upper bay tidal fresh tributaries this year due to the high runoff associated with frequent storms. Large algal blooms also rob the water of oxygen when they die and decay, and can ultimately cause fish kills.

In addition DNR will conduct monthly water quality mapping cruises on the river, towing a dataflow instrument to sample pH, salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll to generate a “snapshot” showing conditions throughout the river.

McLellan and CRA hope the new information on the river’s health will serve as a call to action for all watershed residents. “I’d describe the river as sick, but not terminally ill,” she says. “We can bring the river back to health.”

For more information on the Riverkeeper and CRA’s volunteer water quality monitoring program visit www.chesterriverassociaion.org  or call 410-810-7445.

 

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