Dr. David Senn's nutrients program is highlighted in the San Francisco Examiner as his work to measure and predict the effects of an ever-clearer San Francisco Bay again "come to light":
San Francisco Bay enthusiasts are pleased that the waters of San Francisco Bay are becoming cleaner and clearer, but researchers are worried that this might invite a new problem – blooms of toxic phytoplankton. Although these microscopic, toxin-producing algae are already found in the Bay, with clearer waters permitting more light to reach these photosynthetic algae, it’s feared that the Bay could turn into a toxic soup of both freshwater and marine harmful algae, potentially impacting shellfish and even the marine mammals that are finally starting to re-populate the Bay.
Student and staff researchers at SF State’s Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center are working with scientists from the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to find out if we can expect a better or worse “recuperated” SF Bay now that its muddy waters are becoming clearer.
Related Projects, News, and Events:
This visualization tool facilitates intuitive comparison of continuous data from around the Bay, and across a variety of analytes, to demonstrate the potential for collaborative monitoring across programs.
San Francisco Bay is becoming clearer.
Decades of tidal action have finally washed away most of the mess created 150 years ago by Gold Rush miners who blasted apart hillsides in the Sierra Nevada. The result was millions of tons of mud, gravel and sand that made its way downriver and ended up in the bay, clouding its waters and coating the bottom with a level of silt up to 3 feet thick.
Most of the silt, scientists say, has now moved out to the ocean.
The indications of decreased Bay resilience to high nutrient loads have come to the fore at a time when the availability of resources to continue assessing the Bay’s condition is uncertain. The San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) has no independent nutrient‐related monitoring program, but instead contributes approximately 20% of the USGS data collection cost. Thus, there is currently an urgent need to lay the groundwork for a locally‐supported, long‐term monitoring program to provide information that is most needed to support management decisions in the Bay.
Water Chemistry and Toxicity
Water quality is monitored biennially with a two-week cruise that visits 22 historic and randomly allocated sites, covering each of the bay segments. Conventional water quality, trace metals (including copper, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, and zinc), and trace organics sampling in water occurs during the dry season. Water samples are analyzed for PBDEs biennially, and all other organic parameters (e.g., pesticides, PAHs, and PCBs) are analyzed every four years.
Developing a Bay-wide numerical model that can be used by the RMP, the Regional Board, and stakeholders to inform environmental management decisions has been identified as an important need for several initiatives. Modeling is a key element of the Nutrient Strategy, to aid in identifying impairment and feasible control strategies under current and future conditions. In recent years the RMP has also been laying the groundwork for developing contaminant fate and bioaccumulation models for the Bay that can be used to forecast conditions under different management scenarios.