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Long Island-New Jersey (LINJ) Coastal Drainages Study

FY1998 Workplan—Introduction

October, 1997


It is interesting how perceptions and needs haven't changed much since 1894, just the wording --

"The need of wholesome water for household consumption, as also good water for use in the arts, has prompted many inquiries about the available sources from which steady and abundant supplies of such water may be had, and the large number of these inquiries has demonstrated the necessity of gathering all of the facts relative to the occurrence of waters on the surface and in the earthy and rocky beds under it" (from Cornelius Vermeule, 1894, Geological Survey of New Jersey, Report on Water Supply-- Water power, the flow of streams and attendant phenomena).


Since the time of Vermeule, the LINJ study area has continued to grow and is one of the more densely populated areas of the nation. The 1990 population of the 6,000 square mile study unit is more than 10 million people, concentrated particularly on Long Island and in northeastern New Jersey (figure 1) . There is almost two centuries of a strong and prosperous industrial economy supported by this population, largely centered around the ports of New York City and Philadelphia. There also is a very productive agricultural heritage around the fringes of these metropolitan areas and in the more rural areas of southern and western NJ and eastern LI (figure 2a). These fringe areas, however, are rapidly becoming urban and suburban communities (figure 2b). Currently, agriculture accounts for 12% of the land use in the study area. The remaining 88% is split about equal between urban and forest/wetland/other. There was a 9% increase in urban and subsequent decrease in forest and agricultural land uses between 1973 and 1990. The population growth for the same period was about 8%.

About two-thirds of the study area (figure 3) is in the Coastal Plain (CP) and characterized by flat to gently rolling topography of unconsolidated sedimentary (NJ and LI) and glacial (LI only) deposits, extensive aquifer systems, and streams dominated by groundwater discharge. The other one-third of the study area north of the Fall Line in NE NJ (Piedmont and New England provinces) is characterized by rolling to hilly topography of weathered bedrock throughout and glacial deposits in the northern half of each, fractured bedrock or valley-fill aquifers, and streams dominated by surface-runoff.

Study unit stratification was simplified by combining similar ecoregion strata to yield 3 primary SW strata (NE NJ, CP NJ, and CP LI) and 4 primary GW strata (bedrock NE NJ, valley-fill NE NJ, CP NJ, and CP LI). Land use then becomes the primary differentiating substrata within each of these primary strata (see Background and Environmental Setting section for more detail).

Total withdrawals for water supply in the LINJ is 1,617 Mgal/d. Surface water accounts for 37%, mostly in NE NJ. Groundwater accounts for 63%; 44% of which is in the LI CP (Coastal Plain), 37% in NJ CP, and 19% in NE NJ. Only 20 to 40% of the total water use is groundwater from "confined" aquifers, indicating that much of the water supply in the LINJ is from SW or surficial GW sources and is, therefore, highly vulnerable to contamination.

Major Issues and Goals

The LINJ liaison committee identified two broad water-quality concerns in the study area, they are: (1) the effects of nonpoint-source runoff and, to some extent, point discharges on streams, lakes, and estuaries; and (2) the vulnerability of public and domestic water supplies to contamination from urban, industrial, and agricultural land use. Toxic substances (VOCs, pesticides, and trace elements) are of greatest concern, primarily because the current scientific understanding of processes governing the presence, distribution, fate, and biological effects of these contaminants is limited. Nutrient loading is a concern within the study area, it is important to the aquatic health of streams, lakes, and receiving waters like the New York/New Jersey Harbor Complex and Barnegat Bay and nitrate concentrations have exceeded water-quailty criteria in some shallow groundwater systems of the area.

The large population, extensive urban and industrial development, and, in some areas, agricultural activities are the main causes of water-quality problems. The LINJ liaison committee recognizes that the NAWQA program can provide additional data and understanding to facilitate development of management strategies of these problems. For our data rich study area, we believe the typical NAWQA design strategies for occurrence and 'multiple lines of evidence' coupled with the urban comprehensive strategies and the use of some modeling approaches will be quite effective in filling in some important data gaps and, moreover, in developing a better understanding of the principal sources and processes needed to address the issues. For example, we hope to build extensive SW data sets of nutrients, pesticides, and VOCs from temporal and spatial occurrence surveys of streams (IFS/BFS, synoptic, and coop) and extensive aquatic community surveys (synoptic and coop). The data sets will not only be useful in relating SW occurrence to land use, but we hope to tease out the major factors for differences in aquatic communities from these 'multiple lines of evidence'. We are also building an extensive data set for nutrients, pesticides, and VOCs in GW which, when coupled with source and fate studies (atmospheric, unsaturated, and flow path), will allow us to relate shallow GW quality to land use, identify sources for and estimate the fate of specific contaminants, and perhaps say 'what systems are vunerable and what might be done about the problems'. We already have made significant progress in FY96-97 towards that end.

Analysis of Existing Information and Reports

A summary of our literature review is presented in the Background and Environmental Setting sections later in this workplan. Below is a list of ongoing and published reports that are largely based on existing information. We also have 4 other factsheets on individual LINJ SW and GW surveys in some stage of review; these are not listed here but are in the individual SW (page 4) or GW (page 20) sections. A couple WRI reports have also been started on these efforts, but they are not yet in the review process. See Table A for a list of our completed and planned reports.

Accomplishments in FY 1996-97

Our retrospective analysis of available water-quality and ancillary information to date has produced 2 journal articles, 1 ACS proceedings paper, 3 approved factsheets, 1 WRI report through colleague, and 4 other reports in progress. Because of all the past and ongoing studies in NJ and LI, we chose to focus on selected topical reports, preferably published as journal articles, that would advance our understanding of toxics and biology. Highlights of these efforts and expected dates of approval are as follows:

An analysis of organics and trace elements on bed sediments at 295 sites from NJ coop network. Two journal articles (Water Resources Bulletin of AWRA) and 2 factsheets are currently published on the-- (1&2) Occurrence and distribution of synthetic organic compounds on bed sediments of NJ streams and their relation to basin characteristics, by Paul Stackelberg. (3&4) Distribution of trace elements on bed sediments of NJ streams and their relation to basin characteristics, by Anne O'Brien.

A WRI report summarizing what we've learned from the groundwater quality and toxics studies in NJ and LI. Report through colleague review-- (5) How do people affect groundwater quality? by Rick Clawges (est. approval- May 1998).

We have utilized GIS and other tools to assess loadings of N and P for streams in northern NJ, including mass balance calculations and regression analyses of withdrawals, interbasin transfers, watershed loadings (urban and agricultural), and point-source loads. We are developing a better understanding of the relative importance of water movement and sources (point versus non point) on water-quality in the highly urban NE NJ area. A WRI report is being drafted-- (6) Factors affecting water and nutrient budgets of streams in New Jersey and Long Island, by Bob Reiser and Anne O'Brien (est. draft- March 1998).

We are currently using various statistical approaches to relate measures of benthic invertebrate and fish communities in NJ streams to land use and other factors. A journal article is currently in colleague review-- (7) Relation of benthic invertebrate communities to basin characteristics in NJ streams: Integrating multimetric,multivariate, and GIS approaches , by Jon Kennen (est. approval- Feb 1998). An similar analysis of fish community data has been completed and another journal article is being prepared-- (8) Relation of fish communities to basin characteristics in northern NJ streams, by Jon Kennen (est. draft - March 1998). We also have an early draft of an analysis of available fish data which will result in either a journal article or WRI later this year-- (9) Evaluating changes over 20 years in fish communities for three NJ basins using an Index of Biological Integrity, by Ming Chang and Jon Kennen (est. - approval March 1999).

A spin off State effort will likely follow from our compilation of the NJDEP data base on benthic invertebrates (1100+ species). We have referenced and updated the list with the interagency master taxonomic list in an effort to help the NJDEP produce a State report on the 'Taxa of NJ.' Tabled information has been given to the NJDEP.

We have assessed a data base on VOCs and pesticides in 90 streams of Suffolk County. Data were analyzed from quarterly sampling for 13 streams and annual for 77 streams since 1987 for VOCs and since 1994 for pesticides. We have compiled 2 short papers on VOCs in the LINJ, one on the (10) Occurrence and distribution of MTBE in surface and groundwaters of NJ and LI, by Paul Stackelberg and others (accepted 1997 ASC Proceedings paper), and one on (11) Occurrence and distribution of VOCS in surface waters of LI and NJ, by Steve Terracianno and Anne O'Brien (approved- Mar 1997).

Table of completed and planned reports for the LINJ NAWQA core activities through 1998. [FS=Fact Sheet, JA=Journal Article, WRI=Water Resources Investigation, Proc=Proceedings paper]

Lead Person                      Title of Report                                                    Type   Year   
Surface-Water Reports     
Stackelberg   Presence and distribution of chlorinated organic compounds in NJ streambed sediments   FS     96     
O'Brien       Presence and distribution of trace elements in NJ streambed sediments                  FS     97     
Stackelberg   Presence and distribution of chlorinated organic compounds in NJ streambed sediments   JA     97     
O'Brien       Presence and distribution of trace elements in NJ streambed sediments                  JA     97     
Terracciano   Occurrence of VOCS in streams of LI and NJ                                             FS     97     
O'Brien       Pesticides in New Jersey and Long Island streams                                       FS     98     
Reiser        Seasonal variability in VOC concentrations in New Jersey streams                       FS     98     
O'Brien       Seasonal variability in pesticide concentrations in New Jersey streams                 FS     98     
Pfluamer      Stormflow variability in nutrients, VOCs and pesticides at the seven fixed sites       FS     98-9   
Reiser        Factors affecting water and nutrient budgets of streams in NJ and LI                   WRI    98-9   
O'Brien       Factors affecting water-quality variability of NJ and LI streams                       JA     99     

Ecology Reports              
Kennen        Relation of benthic invertebrate communities to basin characteristics in NJ streams    FS     98     
Kennen        Relation of benthic invertebrate communities to basin characteristics in NJ streams:   JA     98-9   
              Integrating multimetric,multivariate, and GIS approaches                                             
Kennen        Relation of fish communities to basin characteristics in northern NJ streams           JA     99     
Chang         Evaluating 20 years of change in fish communities for three NJ basins                  JA     99     
                   using an index of biological integrity                                                               
Kennen        Relation of water-quality and basin characteristic to aquatic communities              JA     99     
                   along an urban gradient in NJ and LI streams                                                         

Groundwater Reports    

Stackelberg   Distribution of MTBE in surface and groundwaters of NJ and LI,                        Proc   96     
Clawges       How do people affect groundwater quality in NJ and on LI?                             WRI    98     
Stackelberg   Presence of nitrate, pesticides, and VOCs in Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, southern NJ    WRI    97     
Stackelberg   Relation of nitrate, pesticides, and VOCs in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer,            WRI    98     
                   southern NJ, to land use and other factors                                
Hopple        Presence of nitrate, pesticides, trace elements, and VOCs in the                       WRI    98-9   
                   New England fractured-bedrock aquifers of NY and NJ                                                  
Kauffman      Vulnerability of water supplies in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, southern NJ,         WRI    99     
                   to nitrate and synthetic organic compounds-- role of land use and other factors                      

Summary and Other Reports   
Ayers         Water-quality trends using sediment cores from four lakes in NJ and LI                 FS     98-9   
Ayers         Sampling design of water-quality  iinvestigations in NJ and LI, 1996-1998              WRI    99     
Ayers         Water-quality assessment of the LINJ NAWQA study-                                      WRI    99     
                    Results of investigations through October 1998                                                       

Information related to NAWQA can be obtained from:

NAWQA Project Chief, USGS
810 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 206
West Trenton, New Jersey 08628
Phone 609-771-3943

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