SCCWRP News Internal news announcements from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Draft framework unveiled for assessing human health impacts of contaminated sediment SCCWRP and its partners have completed development of a standardized sediment assessment framework intended to better protect the health of humans who consume seafood caught in enclosed bays and estuaries in California. <div><br /> </div> <div>The draft framework, published as a<a href=""> SCCWRP technical report</a> in October, is being considered for adoption by the State Water Board to define for environmental managers how to implement California’s Sediment Quality Objective (SQO) for protection of human health. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The human health SQO – one of three adopted by the State Water Board in 2008 for enclosed bays and estuaries – is a one-sentence regulatory target that calls on sediment contamination to not be present “at levels that will bioaccumulate in aquatic life to levels that are harmful to human health.” </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>SCCWRP and its partners have spent more than a decade conceptualizing, building and vetting the human health SQO framework to create a standardized technical definition of what it means to be in compliance with this regulatory target. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>California’s environmental management community will be able to use the framework to inform decision-making on issues like setting appropriate sediment clean-up targets. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The draft framework relies on standardized, quantitative indicators of sediment contamination’s human health effects to score the quality of sediment in enclosed bays and estuaries. Indicator scores are classified into condition categories ranging from “unimpacted” to “clearly impacted.” </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The human health framework is designed to complement California’s SQO assessment framework for the protection of sediment-dwelling aquatic life, which was adopted by the State Water Board and approved for regulatory use in enclosed bays and estuaries in 2009. Both frameworks use standardized, quantitative indicators with defined thresholds to provide consistency and statewide comparability. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>There is not yet an approved assessment framework in place to support California’s third SQO, which applies to the protection of fish and wildlife. Under the human health SQO framework, sediment sampling sites are assessed in two main ways:</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> <ul> <li><strong> Chemical exposure analysis:</strong> Sportfish tissue chemistry data are compared to the advisory sportfish tissue contamination levels developed by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).</li> <li><strong>Site linkage analysis</strong>: The linkage between site sediment contamination and tissue contaminant concentration is evaluated. </li> </ul> <div>The framework features a three-tiered assessment process that provides capability to adapt the assessment to a wide range of situations. The framework also makes use of a food web bioaccumulation model to evaluate site linkage.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> Assessments using the framework will be focused around PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and chlorinated pesticides – two major chemical drivers of seafood consumption risk. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>SCCWRP and its partners began conceptualizing pieces of the draft framework in 2005, and started developing the technical aspects in 2009 with the guidance of a scientific steering committee as the project came into sharper focus. A stakeholder advisory committee that included participation by SCCWRP member agencies also played a key role in shaping the framework.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> Final refinements to the framework, which were completed over the past year, included harmonizing tissue chemistry evaluation thresholds with OEHHA’s seafood consumption advisory tissue levels, completing a four-year test drive of the framework in the greater Los Angeles Harbors area, and refining the bioaccumulation model used to evaluate sediment contamination. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The State Water Board will solicit public comments on the draft framework through the end of 2017, and hold an informational public workshop on December 5, 2017 in Sacramento. The draft framework is scheduled to be considered for adoption by the State Water Board in March 2018. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>For more information, contact<a href=""> Steve Bay</a>.</div> </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><img alt="" src="/Images/News/SQOHumanHealthFramework.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 655px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" /><br /> </div> <div> <p class="Caption2"></p> <span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">SCCWRP and its partners have developed a sediment quality framework that establishes</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;"> a standardized technical definition of what it means to be in compliance with California’s</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;"> Sediment Quality Objective (SQO) for the protection of human health in enclosed bays</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;"> and estuaries. The draft framework was published as a SCCWRP technical report, above.</span> <p class="Caption2"></p> <p class="Caption2"><o:p></o:p></p> </div> commassistant 5edd5f18-9ab6-4e26-b8e2-03136a5c5aa5 Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:33:50 GMT International expert panel convened to develop acidification thresholds for pteropods A 10-member panel made up of leading global experts on pteropods, or sea snails, convened at SCCWRP in September to develop consensus around biologically relevant thresholds at which these ubiquitous marine calcifying organisms are affected by ocean acidification (OA). <div><br /> </div> <div>During three days of deliberations, the international pteropod panel reached consensus on the thresholds at which various specific environmental conditions linked to more intensive OA in the California Current Ecosystem are expected to trigger specific adverse effects in pteropods and similar calcifying organisms.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> Pteropods, which depend on minerals in seawater to form their highly soluble calcified shells, are sensitive to changes in seawater chemistry, enabling them to serve as early-warning indicators for how OA can be expected to impact the health of marine ecosystems.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The international pteropod panel is the first of three expert panels that will be convened and facilitated by SCCWRP and its partners over the next few years. Researchers’ goal is to use the consensus opinion of experts to develop an interpretation framework that coastal resource managers can use to glean ecologically relevant insights from the copious data they collect via chemistrybased measures of OA, including measuring seawater pH.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> During its deliberations, the pteropod panel agreed that the most relevant OA chemical parameter for assessing impacts to pteropods is aragonite saturation state, which reflects the concentration of a dissolved mineral called aragonite in seawater. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Additionally, panelists reached consensus on which key biological processes in pteropods – including shell dissolution, egg development and mortality – are critically impacted at specific aragonite saturations state thresholds. Panelists also agreed on the critical magnitudes and durations of exposure at which pteropods exhibit increasing levels of adverse biological effects, and identified data gaps and priority future research to address these gaps.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div> Finally, panelists developed recommendations on how to apply their recommended biological endpoints to existing OA monitoring data and computer models that track and predict OA conditions. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>A group of West Coast ocean modelers, including SCCWRP, is planning to immediately use the panel’s recommendations to interpret the outputs of a state-of-the-art, high resolution model that predicts which West Coast habitats and marine communities will be most vulnerable to the impacts of corrosive conditions. Coastal resource managers will be able to use this West Coast OA model to better protect and minimize ecological damage to vulnerable areas during critical periods. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The pteropod panel will draft a review article summarizing its consensus findings and recommendations that will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal next year. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>For more information, contact Dr. <a href="">Nina Bednarsek</a>.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><img alt="" src="/Images/News/PteropodPanel2017.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 275px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" /><br /> </div> <div></div> <span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">An expert panel of 10 leading global experts on pteropods convenes at  SCCWRP in </span> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">September to reach consensus on biologically relevant  thresholds for tracking the</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;"> impacts of ocean acidification on coastal  marine health. The experts, pictured with </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">SCCWRP staff who  facilitated the panel’s deliberations, traveled from as far away</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;"> as Great Britain, Italy and British Columbia.</span> <div></div> </div> commassistant 3a850b47-d5fb-48dc-ab5b-326ced85a51c Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:59:12 GMT Bight ’18 kickoff brings together dozens of agencies A collaboration involving dozens of environmental organizations will examine how human activities have affected the ecological health of Southern California’s coastal waters during the sixth cycle of the Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program, which officially kicked off in September at SCCWRP. <div><br /> </div> <div>Participants of the 2018 cycle of the regional marine monitoring initiative are considering featuring up to six distinct study elements – sediment quality, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, trash, microbial water quality and marine protected areas – that together will help paint a picture of regional ecosystem condition. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Bight ’18 participants are planning to repeat some of their previous regional monitoring efforts to document trends, particularly to sediment quality in the Southern California Bight. They also will ask new scientific questions that require novel measurements, testing of prototype technologies, and additional assessments that extend the program into previously unmonitored habitats. The program’s focus area encompasses more than 1,500 square miles of Southern California’s coastal waters. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>More than 140 people representing nearly 80 organizations attended an all-day Bight ’18 kickoff meeting on September 14 at SCCWRP to begin fleshing out the management questions that the regional program will address. Potential questions were ranked and prioritized based on how environmental managers will respond once they obtain answers to these questions. At the meeting, more than 20 questions made the short list for consideration. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>In the coming months, Bight ’18 participants will further refine the list of management questions and develop technical study designs that will ensure the program can get scientifically rigorous answers. Field sampling will begin July 1, 2018. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program, which has been facilitated by SCCWRP since its inception in 1994, mobilizes Southern California environmental management agencies to collect data from across a much greater expanse than just their local discharge zones. Both regulated and regulatory agencies, as well as non-governmental and academic organizations, come together to collaboratively design the study and interpret findings. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Southern California’s environmental management community relies on the Bight program to better direct resources and to maintain focus on the areas and issues that are disproportionately impacted by human activities. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Planning and final assessment reports from the previous cycle of the Bight monitoring program, Bight ’13, are <a href="">available online</a>. For more information and to learn about becoming a Bight ’18 program participant, contact <a href="">Ken Schiff</a>. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><img alt="" src="/Images/News/B'18 Kickoff.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 300px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" /><br /> </div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">Participants of the Southern California Bight 2018 Regional Monitoring Program attend </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">the program’s all-day kickoff meeting at SCCWRP in September. Nearly 80 organizations </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">from across Southern California and beyond have committed to participating in the regional </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">monitoring collaboration, which examines how human activities have impacted the ecologica</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial;">l health of Southern California’s coastal waters.</span></div>’18_kickoff_brings_together_dozens_of_agencies.aspx commassistant 7c26c138-5918-4d46-8449-fcf9b83d76ac Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:54:41 GMT POTWs embark on study documenting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, genes in effluent <p>SCCWRP and its four wastewater treatment member agencies have initiated a year-long study examining whether viable antibiotic-resistant bacteria – and the genes that code for antibiotic resistance – are being discharged into the environment following the wastewater treatment process.</p> <p>The study, which began in June, will track whether viable bacteria and genetic material are surviving treatment at 10 POTW facilities across Southern California, including an international plant at the U.S.-Mexico border. Influent and effluent samples are being collected quarterly at each wastewater treatment plant.</p> <p>The study’s goal is to develop a baseline understanding of how prevalent antibiotic resistance genes are in wastewater effluent at Southern California’s treatment facilities. If these genes are surviving the treatment processes that destroy most bacterial cells, this genetic material could be traveling via treated effluent into aquatic systems, where potentially pathogenic bacteria in the environment could be taking up the antibiotic resistance genes. In this way, antibiotic resistance could be conferred to bacterial strains that make humans sick – a phenomenon that research has shown can lead to multidrug-resistant “superbugs."</p> <p>The study also will examine whether differences in wastewater treatment regimens and effluent discharge practices across Southern California affect the viability of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes. This information will be particularly timely given that treated effluent in Southern California increasingly is being reused for water recycling projects, including direct groundwater injection.</p> <p>During the study, researchers will screen for three classes of bacterial pathogens resistant to antibiotics: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaciae (CRE). Carbapenems are often the antibiotic of last resort against many life-threatening infections.</p> <p>Researchers will then use DNA-based methods to identify the antibiotic-resistant bacterial species and the antibiotic resistance genes in the influent and effluent. To determine which genes to target during this molecular analysis, researchers are partnering with the Argonne National Laboratory at the University of Chicago, which has curated a large database of known gene sequences coding for antibiotic resistance. Argonne National Laboratory has conducted similar antibiotic resistance work in the Chicago River.</p> <p>Study participants have spent the past few months optimizing lab analysis techniques to ensure they can generate high-quality, comparable results across facilities participating in the study. The majority of the POTW facilities are scheduled to finish their first round of sampling by September.</p> For more information, contact Dr. <a href="">John Griffith.</a><br /> <p> </p> <p><img alt="" style="width: 450px; border-color: #000000; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" src="/Images/News/POTWAntibioticResistantBacteria.jpg" /></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML/> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> </p> <p class="Caption2"></p> <p></p> <span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: &quot;ms sans serif&quot;;">Bacterial conjugation, shown in this image, is one of the ways that bacterial cells can<br /> swap genetic material, potentially conferring antibiotic resistance to one another.<br /> SCCWRP and its wastewater treatment member agencies are tracking whether<br /> the genetic material that codes for antibiotic resistance is being discharged into<br /> the environment following the wastewater treatment process. </span> <p> </p> <p></p> commassistant 3cd14b39-54e4-4d3f-9662-fe9e19c97b01 Mon, 31 Jul 2017 17:38:04 GMT