To quantify the effects of sediment contamination on sediment-dwelling biological communities, as well as on humans via food web transfer, SCCWRP and its partners have developed quantitative scoring tools for assessing sediment quality. Unlike traditional sediment evaluations that rely on best professional judgement to interpret data and results, assessment frameworks offer a systematic approach to synthesize and interpret the findings of multiple types of sediment quality studies. The State Water Board has adopted two sediment quality assessment frameworks which address California’s aquatic life and human health sediment quality objectives (SQOs). The corresponding tools and resources are detailed below, as well as links to video recordings of a Sediment Quality Analysis training course hosted at SCCWRP, which provide information on the development and implementation of each framework.
The third edition of the Sediment Quality Assessment Technical Support Manual (SCCWRP Technical Report 777, June 2021) details the background, methods, and tools used for implementing both the aquatic life and human health SQO assessment frameworks.
Aquatic Life SQO Assessment
SCCWRP and its partners have developed a multiple-lines-of-evidence approach for evaluating the impacts on benthic communities from sediment contamination at a given station. The specific methods from study design to data interpretation are detailed in the SCCWRP Technical Report 777. Several tools are available to assist in the implementation of this framework and are applicable to Euhaline Bays and Coastal Lagoons south of Point Conception and Polyhaline San Francisco Bay that includes the Central and South Bay Areas.
Benthic Community Composition
- Species List of Embayment Macrofauna – List of benthic macroinvertebrate species found in California embayments including their taxonomy, pollution tolerance scores, and notes for use in benthic index calculations.
- SCAMIT Taxonomic List – A taxonomic listing of macro- and mega-invertebrates from infaunal and epibenthic monitoring programs in the Southern California Bight. This webpage provides the most updated version of the list. Further details on how to translate current taxa for use in the SQO tools is provided in the Technical Report.
- RIVPACS Benthic Index Calculator Tool – Online benthic index calculator tool based on the River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System (RIVPACS).
- Data and program files for calculating RIVPACS index scores using SAS – Program, habitat characteristics, and sample data files needed for calculation of the RIVPACS benthic index. User must have SAS software to run the program.
- Data and program files for calculating M-AMBI index scores using R – R script and reference data files needed to calculate the M-AMBI scores for habitats not covered by the RBI, IBI, BRI, and RIVPACS indices. Instructions for use are provided in Benthic Index Calculation Methods for California Embayments.
- Sediment toxicity flow charts – Flow charts for each test organism used for determining the toxicity response category.
Data Integration and Assessment
- Data Integration Tool – An Excel workbook that contains formulas for combining MLOE data to produce a station assessment. This file link provides the current version.
- Data Integration Tool update history
- MLOE Assessment Categories Table – A listing of the site assessment categories resulting from each of the 64 possible combinations of the chemistry, toxicity, and benthic community lines of evidence. The list is sorted by chemistry category.
- Sample calculation for the Aquatic Life Assessment – A document describing the calculations needed to interpret the chemistry, toxicity, and benthic infauna data using the sediment quality assessment tools. The calculations are illustrated using a sample data set.
Human Health SQO Assessment
Evaluating the effects of sediment contamination on humans requires weighing two main variables: understanding whether the contaminants in fish and other foods consumed by humans pose a health risk and understanding the degree to which sediment contamination at a given site contributes to the contaminants found in foods consumed by humans. SCCWRP and its partners have built bioaccumulation models that explain how contaminants are transferred through food webs, consumption risk models that estimate the health risks of eating contaminated seafood, and site linkage models that estimate the role of sediment contamination vs. other pollutant sources in contributing to seafood contamination. The specific methods from study design to data interpretation are detailed in the SCCWRP Technical Report 777. Several tools are available to assist in the implementation of this framework.
Human Health SQO Assessment Tools
- Online Assessment Tool – An interactive web tool that allows users to upload data and conduct a Tier 2 sediment quality assessment.
- Decision Support Tool – An Excel workbook that can be used to analyze sediment and tissue data for a Tier 2 assessment.
- Decision Support Tool User Guide – This guide contains information for conducting Tier 2 analysis using the Decision Support Tool.
- YASAI Add-In – This file contains an Excel add-in designed to conduct a Monte Carlo simulation for use in the Decision Support Tool (DST). This add-in must be installed in Excel before using the DST.
- YASAI User Manual – Document describing the YASAI add-in functions and features.
Sediment Quality Analysis Training Course
SCCWRP hosted a training course in collaboration with Chris Beegan from the State Water Board titled “Sediment Quality Analysis for SQOs.” This course provided an overview of California sediment policy as well as the details on the development, tools, and implementation for the aquatic life and human health SQO assessment frameworks.
Training Course Videos: Aquatic Life SQO
- Video 1 – Course introduction, California sediment policy overview, and the conceptual approach for the Aquatic Life SQO (01:04:43).
- Video 2 – Aquatic Life SQO assessment tools (01:07:54).
- Video 3 – Aquatic Life SQO assessment framework and implementation (00:57:50).
- Video 4 – Sampling and monitoring program application (00:50:01).
- Video 5 – Aquatic Life SQO data analysis exercise (00:10:51).
- Video 6 – Spatial analysis, stressor identification, and causal assessment (01:18:22).
Training Course Videos: Human Health SQO
Training Course Files