The New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary lies at the heart of the largest and most densely populated urban area in the country. Many challenges lie ahead to achieve the Clean Water Act’s goal of fishable/swimmable waters, where attainable. Primary issues include pathogen contamination, excessive levels of nutrients and low dissolved oxygen, legacy toxic pollution, floatable debris, and contaminants of emerging concern including microplastics. In addition, water quality management in the estuary is complicated by the district political jurisdictions of New York and New Jersey, which dictate regulatory approaches and can differ communications. For example, water quality standards may differ between states thus determine what constitutes “achievement” for a shared waterbody may be unclear.
Addressing the complex issues and facilitate communication across agencies and organizations, the Water Quality Work Group (WQWG) was formed under the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) in 2013. HEP and the WQWG work together to advance discussions of new science/research, continue dialogue across agencies, and share information. With a define goal of fishable/swimmable waters, the WQWG aims to:
- Communicate among interested parties about the status of pollution management plan efforts
- Identify water quality monitoring needs and develop initiatives to fill these needs
- Communicate water quality trends to various audiences
- Consider traditional and new technologies, including green infrastructure that would be beneficial to the estuary
- Identify opportunities for water stewardship that can be highlighted for the Citizen Advisory Committee
Past efforts of the WQWG focused on using mathematical models to estimate load reductions necessary to meet water quality standards. This effort led the production of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) reports focused on nutrients, pathogens, and toxic contamination, including trace metals. To access the TMDLs and other reports produced by or in partnership with the WQWG, please click on the links below.