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OCNSMP A multi-year plan to address selenium and nutrient issues in the Newport Bay watershed
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The Work Plan


Work Plan

The Work Plan fully addresses the requirements specified in Provision D.15.i of Order No. R8-2004-0021. The intent of the Work Plan is to address issues related to groundwater discharges of selenium and nitrogen in the Newport Bay watershed. The Work Plan was developed by a small team of independent scientists working under the direction of the Nitrogen and Selenium Management Program. The team consisted of Dr. Brock Bernstein, Dr. Sam Luoma (USGS), and Dr. Michael Stenstrom (UCLA). The Work Plan was developed in 2005 and all tasks and projects must be completed by December 20, 2009.

Because groundwater is an important source for both nitrogen and selenium, there are efficiencies to be gained from monitoring both constituents simultaneously. However, because their transport, fate, and mode of impact differ, key aspects of the data analysis and impact assessment for each constituent are dealt with separately. Thus, the Work Plan treats nitrogen and selenium together where possible and describes separate and/or parallel tasks where needed. The effort to implement the Work Plan is complex and extends over five years, so there likely will be key decision points that cannot be completely specified in the Work Plan. Specific tasks may need to be modified or deleted, or new tasks may need to be added. The Work Plan is therefore a starting point and an overall framework within which adaptive adjustments can be made as needed.

The Work Plan contains six key tasks:

1. Complementary Monitoring Program - The goal of this task is to expand current knowledge of both selenium and nitrogen sources in the watershed. For selenium, monitoring and data analysis is intended to expand current knowledge about both the extent of selenium bioavailability in the watershed's ecosystems and the potential for adverse effects from existing selenium inputs. For nitrogen, monitoring and data analysis is intended to improve knowledge of specific nitrogen sources and pathways, including seasonal changes in nitrogen concentrations and loads, and development of a more quantitative relationship between algal growth and beneficial use impairment.

2. Develop and Evaluate BMPs and Treatment Technologies -- The goal of this task is to evaluate and develop effective selenium and nitrogen treatment approaches or methods, with an emphasis on the use of pilot and demonstration projects.

3. Develop Offset, Trading, or Mitigation Program -- The goal of this task is to determine the applicability of an offset, trading or mitigation program as a potential means to more efficiently allocate selenium and nitrogen treatment costs and efforts among sources in the watershed. If feasible mechanisms are identified, implementation details will be developed.

4. Evaluate Nutrient TMDL - Using monitoring data generated from Task 1 and under the TMDL itself, the purpose of this task is to assess whether: 1) the numeric TMDL targets should be revised to reflect improved knowledge about the extent and magnitude of impacts on beneficial uses in Newport Bay and about the relationship between nitrogen levels and such impacts; and 2) the load allocations should be adjusted to reflect improved knowledge about the sources of nitrogen, particularly from groundwater.

5. Develop a Site Specific Objective for Selenium (if necessary) -- The goal of this task is to define a procedure for assessing the need for a SSO and to develop a SSO if in fact one is needed for the Newport Bay watershed.

6. Management and Communication -- The NSMP project is complex and lengthy, and includes a wide range of technical tasks that must be completed in an evolving scientific and regulatory environment, all while meeting the needs of a large stakeholder community that may have different interests and priorities. This task provides for data management and internal project coordination as well as external stakeholder coordination and communication.