The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) is a novel partnership between regulatory agencies and the regulated community to provide the scientific foundation to manage water quality in the largest Pacific estuary in the Americas. The RMP monitors water quality, sediment quality and bioaccumulation of priority pollutants in fish, bivalves and birds. To improve monitoring measurements or the interpretation of data, the RMP also regularly funds special studies. The success of the RMP stems from collaborative governance, clear objectives, and long-term institutional and monetary commitments. Over the past 22 years, high quality data and special studies from the RMP have guided dozens of important decisions about Bay water quality management. Moreover, the governing structure and the collaborative nature of the RMP have created an environment that allowed it to stay relevant as new issues emerged. With diverse participation, a foundation in scientific principles and a continual commitment to adaptation, the RMP is a model water quality monitoring program. This paper describes the characteristics of the RMP that have allowed it to grow and adapt over two decades and some of the ways in which it has influenced water quality management decisions for this important ecosystem.
Contaminant concentrations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River watershed were determined in water samples mainly during flood flows in an ongoing effort to describe contaminant loads entering San Francisco Bay, CA, USA. Calculated PCB and total mercury loads during the 6-year observation period ranged between 3.9 and 19 kg/yr and 61 and 410 kg/yr, respectively. Long-term average PCB loads were estimated at 7.7 kg/yr and total mercury loads were estimated at 200 kg/yr. Also monitored were PAHs, PBDEs (two years of data), and dioxins/furans (one year of data) with average loads of 392, 11, and 0.15/0.014 (OCDD/OCDF) kg/yr, respectively. Organochlorine pesticide loads were estimated at 9.9 kg/yr (DDT), 1.6 kg/yr (chlordane), and 2.2 kg/yr (dieldrin). Selenium loads were estimated at 16 300 kg/yr. With the exception of selenium, all average contaminant loads described in the present study were close to or below regulatory load allocations established for North San Francisco Bay.
Hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OH-BDEs) are a new class of contaminants of emerging concern, but the relative roles of natural and anthropogenic sources remain uncertain. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as brominated flame retardants, and they are a potential source of OH-BDEs via oxidative transformations. OH-BDEs are also natural products in marine systems. In this study, OH-BDEs were measured in water and sediment of freshwater and coastal systems along with the anthropogenic wastewater-marker compound triclosan and its photoproduct dioxin, 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. The 6-OH-BDE 47 congener and its brominated dioxin (1,3,7-tribromodibenzo-p-dioxin) photoproduct were the only OH-BDE and brominated dioxin detected in surface sediments from San Francisco Bay, the anthropogenically impacted coastal site, where levels increased along a north-south gradient. Triclosan, 6-OH-BDE 47, 6-OH-BDE 90, 6-OH-BDE 99, and (only once) 6’-OH-BDE 100 were detected in two sediment cores from San Francisco Bay. The occurrence of 6-OH-BDE 47 and 1,3,7-tribromodibenzo-p-dioxin sediments in Point Reyes National Seashore, a marine system with limited anthropogenic impact, was generally lower than in San Francisco Bay surface sediments. OH-BDEs were not detected in freshwater lakes. The spatial and temporal trends of triclosan, 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, OH-BDEs, and brominated dioxins observed in this study suggest that the dominant source of OH-BDEs in these systems is likely natural production, but their occurrence may be enhanced in San Francisco Bay by anthropogenic activities.