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