Mini-Symposium Summary Notes – MOCA

MOCA Partnership Mini-Symposium on OA Remediation Projects and Policy Directions

November 15, 2016; 10:00am-3:15pm
Augusta, Legislative Council Room

Meeting Summary

54 people attended, including representatives from all 3 state agencies involved with MOCA (DEP, DMR, DACF) and several legislators. The presentations prompted excellent discussion with a general feeling that we need to determine the relative contributions of terrestrial and oceanic drivers of OCA before instating water quality criteria specific to OCA. In the meantime, there are existing regulatory tools that can and should be used. MOCA’s next steps include a presentation to the Coastal Caucus of legislators in January 2017 and a reinstatement of the monitoring and policy subgroups to work on a comprehensive monitoring plan for Maine.

Presentation Notes

Damian Brady (University of Maine) – Nutrients and Acidification

  • Lot of noise in near shore coastal acidification every day due to photosynthesis (taking DIC out of water) and respiration (adding DIC to water); hard to pick up long term trends
  • DIC plus nutrients create organic matter- initially fuels higher pH, but after it sinks and goes the other way; these processes are decoupled via stratification; a well-mixed estuary may not have this problem
  • While all estuaries are different, all Maine estuaries are under the influence of the Gulf of Maine, which is a huge source of nitrogen (offshore mass of low pH water)
  • We need to get a better handle on the sources (land, sea, and sediments); model DIC
  • Need river gaging; river flow * nutrient concentration = nutrient loading

Aubrey Strause (Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District – Stormwater Management in Maine

  • Stormwater = water that hits impervious surfaces; contains all sorts of contaminants
  • Storm drains are separated from wastewater systems; they go to local waterbodies without treatment (except for the few communities that have combined systems)
  • State stormwater law- improved regulations for new and re-development over an acre (Chapter 500)
  • Clean Water Act permits in Maine are MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System); MS4 towns have to abide by 6 minimum control measures
  • Long Creek project in South Portland is model- ex) vegetated medians, gravel wetland

Shane Rogers (Clarkson University) – Nutrient Bioextraction and Bioenergy Recovery from Ocean Outfalls of Treatment Works

  • Investigating nutrient bioextractive potential of sugar kelp for use at wastewater treatment plants
  • Worked with Ocean Approved and Boothbay Harbor Sanitary District
  • If 45 tons of fresh kelp can be produced per hectare per year (4.6 tons of dry biomass), the annual net nitrogen removal rate is 88 kg/ha/yr
  • For every million gallons per day of flow rate from treatment plant, need 16 hectares of kelp to every 1 mg/L of nitrogen from that flow rate
  • Example from model: if we had 9.6 mg/L in effluent, a plant with 2 million gallons/day would need 50 ha of kelp farm to meet primary treatment levels (8 mg/L)
  • For plants needing secondary or tertiary treatment, you would need a LOT of kelp, but kelp could be a useful part of the equation

Nichole Price (Bigelow Laboratory) – Phytoremediation potential of kelp and eelgrass

  • In lab, all 4 macrophytes tested, the more CO2 available, the more they absorbed, with sugar kelp being the most effective
  • In field at Ocean Approved kelp farm, found that sugar kelp has ability to raise seawater pH and aragonite saturation state; but, once kelp gets very large and growth rate slows and it becomes fouled with respiring organisms, detected a shift from net productivity to net respiration, 
  • Integrated multitrophic aquaculture (collocating kelp with mussels) may shorten time to market for mussels, but timing of the kelp removal may be key to phytoremediation benefits
  • In field, a cove with eelgrass cover had higher pH and oxygen content during month of peak production than a cove without eelgrass
  • Next steps are to quantify size and magnitude of remediated ‘halo’ at kelp farm and better understand timing of harvest

Beth Turner (NOAA) – Northeast Coastal Acidification Network (NECAN) Update

  • New website ( online including reference library with annotated bibliography
  • Guidance document coming out for OCA monitoring
  • Webinar series is back (!

Representative Mick Devin – Legislative Update

  • Noted how well state agencies are represented within MOCA and pointed to the importance of MOCA in educating legislators
  • First Coastal Caucus meeting with new legislature is January 17; Rep. Blume will invite presentation about OCA

Aaron Strong (UMaine) – Connecting Monitoring to Policy: Potential for OA Water Quality Criteria

  • pH is a recognized pollutant under CWA- marine waters pH should be between 6.5 and 8.5 and should not change more than .2 pH units from “normal” (as of 1976 and renewed in 1986)
  • We currently aren’t using the CWA to manage OCA because with the state of science and monitoring, we don’t know what “normal” is
  • EPA is being sued again by the Center for Biological Diversity because current numeric and narrative/biological criteria require listing waters as impaired and because they want EPA to update its National Standards to reflect the latest science
  • Water quality standards for OCA could move beyond pH (aragonite saturation state or pCO2) or could be an ecological narrative criteria, but for any approach, monitoring data is key- need baseline data on natural variability and need to link biological and biogeochemical data

Ivy Frignoca (Friends of Casco Bay) – Reducing Nutrient Loading through MEPDES Permits

  • Under CWA, point source must have NPDES permit to discharge pollutants, including nitrogen
  • In ME, EPA delegated its authority to issue NPDES permits to ME DEP but retains oversight of the program; called MEPDES permits
  • 2 ways to set nitrogen limits: numeric or narrative
  • 2007 law required ME DEP to develop numeric nutrient criteria and to focus on Casco Bay first; to date, no criteria developed; few states have developed numeric criteria
  • ME uses narrative criteria [ex) if nitrogen level in receiving water exceeds .32 mg/l, then need to assess reasonable potential of discharge to impact eelgrass]; ME DEP currently does this using a far field dilution model which is not used elsewhere in the country and which EPA and Friends of Casco Bay have questioned, as it appears to disregard impacts to eelgrass closer to the discharge
  • The narrative nitrogen criteria ME DEP currently uses is not specifically designed to address OCA; it is, however, designed to keep nitrogen loading to levels that do not have a reasonable potential to negatively impact aquatic life