Recommendations developed for how to build capacity to monitor HABs at land-sea interface

Posted August 9, 2022

SCCWRP and its partners have developed a set of best-practices recommendations for building capacity in California to monitor toxins produced by freshwater harmful algal blooms (HABs) that travel through inland waterways to the coastal zone, where they mix with marine algal toxins.

The recommendations, published in June by the journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, call on California to coordinate monitoring across multiple jurisdictional boundaries, to deploy multiple types of sampling methods to optimize the insights gained through monitoring, and to monitor the toxins produced by both freshwater and marine HABs.

Researchers found that most HAB monitoring efforts to date have not accounted for hydrological connections in their monitoring strategies and designs, limiting managers’ ability to truly understand and manage potential health risks for humans and animals. For example, deaths of sea otters have been linked to exposure to freshwater toxins that were transferred to the coastal zone. 

The recommendations complement existing HABs management strategies developed by the State Water Resources Control Board that identify the land-to-sea interface as a priority area for monitoring and research, and encourage cross-agency coordination. Already, California has developed an interagency HABs illness working group to take a more coordinated, integrated approach to tracking illnesses linked to toxins produced by both freshwater and marine HABs.

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