The information by itself, however, will not clean up the Bay. Measurable
progress can be expected only when this information is used in the
development, implementation and evaluation of management actions.
Furthermore, the struggle toward progress will be difficult in the face of
mounting population pressures. A long-term commitment to develop and
maintain technically sound management plans is the only real hope for
success in restoring vitality to Chesapeake Bay.
Presented here are the results of the first two years of the monitoring
program. During this period (summer 1984 through summer 1986) a major
campaign has been initiated to reveal the present condition of the Bay in
quantitative terms, to assess how the Bay is changing in response to
management decisions, and to determine the causes of the current decline.
At this early stage in the program, an unprecedented understanding of the
Bay's current condition has already been achieved. It is this developing
understanding of current conditions that will be the focus of this report.
Future reports will examine in more detail the Bay's response to management
actions and some of the underlying causes of the Bay's problems.
In order to insure that the OEP effort is capable of supporting effective
management actions, it is imperative that the program be logically
formulated. Past experiences indicate that the probability of success in
satisfying this program's objective will be enhanced because the following
elements were considered during the initial program design:
- A clear statement of the relevant management
issues to be addressed,
- The development of specific management
questions that define the information needed
for management actions,
- The design of a technically sound and practical sampling program,
- A timely analysis, interpretation and presentation of results, and
- The development of management policies
The remainder of this chapter will present a discussion of each of these
five elements using examples to demonstrate the actual processes that were
followed. A further discussion of the last step, development of management
actions and policies, will be presented in the final
The first task that managers and scientists face before they can initiate
efforts to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its major
tributaries is to clearly define what the major management issues are.
Success in restoring the Bay will logically depend on a clear
conceptualization of the problems we are trying to correct. This
conceptualization of the management issues will then lead to specific
actions that are perceived as necessary to bring about a recovery. Of
course, the definition of management issues and management actions will
significantly impact the design of the monitoring program and the ultimate
application and utility of the monitoring results.
In 1983, the Environmental Protection Agency and the States of Maryland and
Virginia completed a seven year, $27 million program to characterize the
existing state of the Bay, to study the causes of the observed declines in
the Bay, and to propose strategies needed to begin corrective measures.
Relying on available historical data and supplemental information collected
by the EPA/States program, the major management issues were identified as:
- Declining levels of oxygen in Bay waters,
- Increasing levels of phytoplankton (microscopic plants) due to nutrient
- The presence of toxic materials, and
- Declines in living resources.
Once the broad management issues were defined, there was a need to develop
more specific questions that would guide future management actions and
serve as a focus for evaluating their success or failure. Answers to these
management questions are the pieces of information necessary to develop
technically sound actions and policies.
Management questions were formulated for each of the major management
issues presented above. Consideration was given to the information already
available from existing monitoring and research programs. Some of the
management questions were relatively well studied by the State, and
sufficient information was available to continue existing management plans.
For several of the management questions, the available data was determined
to be insufficient to develop revised or new management strategies.
To illustrate the concept, examples of management questions formulated for
each of the management issues are given below:
Decreasing Oxygen Levels:
Where are the major areas of low dissolved oxygen waters in the Chesapeake
Is the areal extent of low dissolved oxygen water expanding over time?
Which pollutant inputs are most responsible for the low oxygen conditions?
Increasing Phytoplankton Levels:
Where are phytoplankton blooms a major problem?
Has the severity of phytoplankton blooms in impacted areas, such as the
Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, decreased since 1980 when management
were being implemented?
What is the relationship between nutrient levels and phytoplankton biomass?
Where are the major concentrations of heavy metals in the sediments of the
Are toxicants levels in the sediments of historically impacted areas, such
Baltimore Harbor, decreasing?
Are toxicants that are accumulating in the sediments also entering the food
Where is striped bass spawning succeeding or failing in the Bay system?
Are oyster stocks declining?
What environmental factors, for example food resources and acidity, are
correlated with spawning success of fish in nursery regions?
Examination of the spectrum of major management questions revealed that
they could be separated into 3 major categories:
- Questions about the spatial and temporal characterization of each problem
- Questions about observed trends in time
- Questions about processes and causes relating to the major management
These three categories of management questions thus became the guiding
objectives for designing the monitoring program. The specific physical,
chemical and biological components of Bay water quality that were chosen
for monitoring were those considered necessary to adequately address the
major management issues.
The first two objectives of the monitoring program - characterization and
trend - were considered to be goals that were fully-achievable by the
monitoring program. At this time an initial characterization using the
monitoring results is possible, although we will achieve greater confidence
and reliability in this assessment with several years of data. The initial
characterization is the subject of this report. The identification of
trends will be an ongoing objective as management actions are continually
being evaluated. The third objective - processes and causes - requires a
synthesis of monitoring data with research and modeling programs to achieve
definitive answers to most management questions in this category. There are
also management questions that are not fully covered under the water
quality program such as those related to living resources; these questions
are being addressed by other State programs specific to this problem.
Nonetheless, there are important questions relating to living resources
that cannot be answered without the comprehensive perspective of the
current water quality monitoring program.
DESIGN OF SAMPLING PROGRAM
The design of the present monitoring program is predicated upon the
management issues and questions discussed above. The program will only be
successful to the degree that it can ultimately respond with sound answers
to the management questions being posed. Thus, in assembling the program
details, the attainment of these answers was always the foremost
To reach its stated goals, it is essential that the program be technically
sound. State-of-the-art scientific knowledge was incorporated into all
phases of the monitoring design to assure technically defensible results.
For each discipline contained in the monitoring program, OEP scientists
solicited technical reviews from recognized experts.
To be implemented effectively and sustained for the time necessary to yield
results, the monitoring program also needs to be logistically and
economically practical. This means that the program is scaled properly, is
efficient, measures the minimum number of the meaningful variables, and is
flexible enough to change when necessary.
Finally, the complex physical, chemical and biological processes
characteristic of estuarine systems must be considered in the design of an
effective monitoring program. Without a solid understanding of how these
processes influence the selection of variables to be measured, sampling
frequencies, measurement methods, and data analyses techniques, the results
will have limited application to management policy formulations. A
description of these important processes and how they influence the
problems facing Chesapeake Bay is contained in the next
A brief description of the overall program design is presented in
3. In each subsequent chapter that addresses elements of the monitoring
program, more specific aspects of the program design are discussed prior to
the presentation of results.
ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION, AND RESULTS
A critical step that determines the usefulness of the monitoring program is
the analysis of date, interpretation of the findings and presentation of
results. This final link is necessary to bring the wealth of information
collected under the monitoring program into coherent and usable products.
These products complete the sequence of events that allow the program to
fulfill its objective of providing management with a valuable planning and
assessment tool. Too often, ambitious and well-intentioned programs have
floundered at this crucial final stage.
In order for the monitoring data to be used in the decision making process,
it must first be meaningfully analyzed by one or more objective techniques.
For some applications, a simple graphical analysis may suffice because the
patterns are obvious or the analysis is exploratory in nature such as
examining potential cause and effect relationships. Graphical analysis is
also valuable for the preliminary phases of data analysis when, in many
cases, insufficient data is available to warrant specific statistical
tests. Graphical representations of the data are the principal products in
this report because we are presently in the preliminary phases of data
In more rigorous levels of data analysis, objective statistical techniques
are applied to evaluate hypotheses. Hypotheses, in the context of the
monitoring program, are simply a formulation of the management questions
into a statistically testable statement. For example, one of the management
questions stated above concerning increased phytoplankton levels and the
effectiveness of management initiatives since 1980 could be formulated into
the following specific hypothesis: Phytoplankton levels in the tidal fresh
area of the Potomac River during summer have not changed since 1980. An
appropriate statistical test could then be applied to either accept or
reject this hypothesis. If the hypothesis was rejected and levels actually
were shown to decline since 1980, the management question concerning trends
in phytoplankton for this region would be answered. The use of statistics
must be very carefully applied, however, paying particular attention to the
assumptions of each technique in relation to the data that is available
from the monitoring program. In fact, the requirements of statistical
testing was one of the critical factors considered in the program's design
to insure that appropriate data would be collected.
Once the monitoring data has been analyzed, the results must be interpreted
in the context of the management decisions that will depend upon this
information. Often, there will be numerous specific results from several
different monitoring elements that must be synthesized into a unified
finding about a particular management issue. It is also important that the
results from the monitoring data be accompanied by some statement of the
confidence, or scientific uncertainty, that should be associated with a
particular finding. Confidence in the findings could include limits on the
estimates of particular measurements of the Bay's condition or limits on
the geographical locations to which a result may apply.
Finally, the interpretation of results should conclude with recommendations
for management policies. This is the culmination of the sequence of events
upon which that entire program is based. It presents managers with a
suggested course of action based upon the careful evaluation of monitoring
results. Of course, there are other considerations, as will be discussed in
the following paragraphs, that also influence the final decisions on
management policies and actions.
MANAGEMENT POLICIES AND ACTIONS
The degree to which OEP's monitoring program results are incorporated into
the formulation of management policy and actions directed towards Bay
restoration will determine the true efficacy of the program.
In almost all management decisions aimed at restoring the Bay, several
issues must be considered. First, there is the technical foundation for the
decision. This is where the monitoring program is expected to be a powerful
tool. Sometimes the monitoring data will be used in conjunction with
computer models to provide an added dimension of forecasting the outcome of
a variety of potential management strategies. Results from research studies
may also provide technical input in the area of cause-and-effect
Other important considerations that will bear upon a final management
policy are the priorities of citizens who could be affected by the
decision, the economics of the decision and the available technology to
support the implementation of a particular management policy.
In the end, however, it is the monitoring program that will provide the
verdict on the success of individual or collective management decisions.
These evaluations will either lead to a strengthening of our original
management positions or to a reformulation of strategies to provide more
effective measures aimed at restoring the Bay's health.
A more detailed description of the strategies that will be used in the
development of policies and management actions will be the subject of the
2. Understanding The Bay's Problems
3. Program Description
4. Chemical and Physical Properties
6. Benthic Organisms
7. Ecosystem Processes
8. Pollutant Inputs
9. Management Strategies and the Role