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National Wildlife Refuge System Friends Academy October 27, 2009. Resource Challenge Contaminants/Water Quality. George Noguchi USFWS - Division of Environmental Quality Arlington, VA. Pete Tuttle, USFWS. Pete Tuttle, USFWS. Bon Secour NWR. Bon Secour NWR. Learning Objectives.

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national wildlife refuge system friends academy october 27 2009
National Wildlife Refuge System Friends AcademyOctober 27, 2009

Resource Challenge

Contaminants/Water Quality

George Noguchi

USFWS - Division of Environmental Quality

Arlington, VA

Pete Tuttle, USFWS

Pete Tuttle, USFWS

Bon Secour NWR

Bon Secour NWR

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Explain why contaminants and water quality are prominent threats to wildlife conservation on refuges
  • Explain what is causing degraded water quality on refuges
  • Explain some of the challenges to addressing improved water quality on refuges
understanding contaminant and water quality threats to wildlife conservation on refuges
Understanding Contaminant and Water Quality Threats to Wildlife Conservation on Refuges
  • History of partnership between Refuges and the Environmental Contaminants Program
  • Types of contaminants / water pollutants
  • Sources
  • Types of effects
  • Water quality (Clean Water Act) basics
environmental contaminants refuges partnership
Environmental Contaminants – Refuges Partnership
  • Early contaminant issues on NWRs: Wheeler NWR, AL; Great Swamp NWR, NJ; Kesterson NWR, CA
  • Emerging Federal laws

Clean Water Act 1977

CERCLA* (Superfund) 1980

TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) 1982

  • Environmental Contaminants Program ~ 1982

* Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensations and Liability Act

environmental contaminants refuges activities
Environmental Contaminants – RefugesActivities
  • Contaminant Assessment Process (CAP)
  • On-Refuge Contaminant Investigations
  • Contaminant Cleanup on Refuges
  • Pre-Acquisition Contaminant Surveys
  • Oil and Hazardous Material Response
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Pesticide

Use Proposal (PUP) Review

  • Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration
  • Environmental Compliance Audits
  • Amphibian Surveys
types of contaminants water pollutants that have affected or may affect nwrs
Types of Contaminants/Water Pollutants that have affected or may affect NWRs
  • Legacy Pollutants (PCBs, DDT, Dieldrin, etc)
  • Heavy Metals (mercury, lead, copper, etc)
  • Trace Elements (selenium)
  • Current Use Pesticides (atrazine, diazinon, etc)
  • Oil and Gas related
  • “Conventional” water pollutants (ammonia, dissolved oxygen, temperature, coliform bacteria)
  • Emerging Contaminants

Other Industrial (flame retardants - PBDEs)

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)

Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs)

sources of contamination
Sources of Contamination
  • Industrial; direct and indirect discharges
  • Municipal; direct discharge, biosolids
  • Landfills
  • Agricultural; runoff, irrigation return waters, pesticide spray drift, leaching, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), biosolids
  • Mining; runoff, valley fill
  • Oil and gas
  • Urban runoff
  • Changes in land use practices
  • Atmospheric deposition (Clean Air Act)

Oil and gas operations at Delta NWR

(Billy Umsted, FWS)

biological effects acute and chronic
Biological EffectsAcute and Chronic

Acute Effects:

  • Occur rapidly (within hours or days)
  • Poisonings, spills, high concentration exposures
  • Death (fish kill) or rapid onset of sublethal impairments
chronic effects
Chronic Effects
  • Effects occur later in time (weeks, months, years)

Long term exposure to low concentrations

Short term exposure during early development, but

effects occur later

Types of effects

  • Reproductive
  • Neurological (behavioral)
  • Immunological (disease resistance)
  • Cancer
  • Wasting
effects on reproduction selenium se joe skorupa fws
Effects on ReproductionSelenium (Se) – Joe Skorupa, FWS

Abnormal Redhead Duck embryo (middle) caused by Se, Ouray NWR, UT

Black-neck stilts; left 14-d old from Se-normal egg, right 13-d old from Se contaminated egg; retarded growth from embryonic exposure, Tulare Basin, CA

Mike Saiki, USGS

Normal and deformed mosquito fish fry from San Luis Drain, a source of water for the Kesterson NWR, CA. Effects later shown to be due to Se.

behavioral effects jay davis western washington fo wa
Behavioral EffectsJay Davis, Western Washington FO, WA
  • Carbaryl (insecticide) used to control burrowing/ghost shrimp on oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, WA
  • Summer rearing habitat for anadromous salmonids
  • Laboratory tests showed:
  • Cutthroat unable to “smell” carbaryl (no avoidance)
  • Reduced acetylcholinesterase activity in brain and muscle
  • Reduced swimming performance
  • Reduced predator avoidance
endocrine disruption potomac r tributaries chris guy and fred pinkney chesapeake bay fo md
Endocrine Disruption: Potomac R. & TributariesChris Guy and Fred Pinkney, Chesapeake Bay FO, MD




Dr. Vicki Blazer, USGS



Testes with numerous

oocytes (arrows)

Normal testes with mature sperm (a)

clean water act basics
Clean Water Act Basics
  • Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Implemented by EPA, States, and Tribes
  • Major Elements

Water Quality Standards

Pollution Discharge Permits

Monitoring and Reporting

water quality standards
Water Quality Standards
  • Designated Uses (“fishable/swimmable”, drinking water, etc)
  • Numeric and narrative standards (to protect uses)
  • Antidegradation
  • Other (i.e. mixing zones, variances)
pollution discharge permits
Pollution Discharge Permits
  • Regulate pollution discharges from point sources
  • Stormwater (industrial, construction, municipal)
  • Non-point sources do not require permits
  • Federal Permits issued by EPA – NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System)
  • State-issued permits (most states)
monitoring and reporting
Monitoring and Reporting
  • Monitoring surface waters
  • Biennial reporting (305b reports)
  • Identification of impaired waters (303d list)
  • Develop TMDL (total maximum daily load) for impaired waters

National Water Quality Inventory: Report to Congress - 2004 Reporting Cycle, USEPA

impaired waters project fws epa usgs
Impaired Waters ProjectFWS/EPA/USGS
  • Identify impaired waters and TMDLs within and adjacent to National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries
  • Conduct additional analyses and research on specific issues involving impaired waters and FWS properties that can further inform, guide, and accelerate restoration planning for impaired waters.
  • Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze and summarize patterns in the spatial relationships of refuges and hatcheries relative to impaired waters, pollutants, and TMDLs.
other threats to wildlife conservation on refuges
Other Threats to Wildlife Conservation on Refuges
  • Exceedence of water quality standards
  • Impaired waters (303d)
  • TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load)
  • Fish Consumption Advisories
challenges to addressing improved water quality on refuges
Challenges to Addressing Improved Water Quality on Refuges

1. Identifying and mitigating biological/ecological impacts of contaminants on NWRs:

> Understanding water quality requirements of Refuge

resources (i.e. how sensitive are species to water pollutants)

> Understanding how contaminants of emerging concern may

affect Refuge resources

> Ability to effectively reduce pollutant

loadings and/or sources

challenges to addressing improved water quality on refuges1
Challenges to Addressing Improved Water Quality on Refuges

2. Managing regulatory requirements (CWA) associated with maintaining/improving water quality on Refuges and associated waters:

> Understanding the mass balance of water pollutants on


> Identifying land/water management practices that achieve

Refuge mission/goals while fulfilling water quality


> Need for systematic approach for assessing WQ on NWRs

and impacts to fish & wildlife (i.e. WQ monitoring program

for NWRs)

challenges to addressing improved water quality on refuges2
Challenges to Addressing Improved Water Quality on Refuges

3. Climate Change - Identify Refuges where water quality/quantity is key climate vulnerability

> Anticipated climatic changes:

Increase/decrease precipitation

Rising water tables

Increasing temperatures

> Implications for water quality:

Increase/decrease in non-point source pollution (runoff)

Exposure to new sources (new pathways)

Temperature-related changes in pollutant toxicity and species sensitivity

new policies fish consumption advisories
New PoliciesFish Consumption Advisories

Directors Order 190(4/26/07)