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  • Incorporating Bioassessment Using Freshwater Algae into California’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)

    May 2008

    2008 Technical Report

    This project was funded by SWAMP.

    karlenem Text Box SCCWRP #563

  • Incorporating Bioassessment Using

    Freshwater Algae into California’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)

    Prepared for:

    California State Water Resources Control Board

    Prepared by:

    A. Elizabeth Fetscher, Ph.D. Karen McLaughlin, Ph.D.

    Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP)

    3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110 Costa Mesa, CA 92626

    www.sccwrp.org

    May 16, 2008

    Technical Report 563

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    The authors wish to thank the members of our Technical Advisory Committee for assisting with the development of the content for this document and reviewing/commenting on draft versions. The committee members are listed below, in alphabetical order: E. Paulette Akers Kentucky Division of Water Quality Amanda Bern State Water Resources Control Board Lilian Busse San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board Steve Camacho State Water Resources Control Board Matthew Cover University of California, Berkeley Clayton Creager North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board David Herbst Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory Emily Hollingsworth South Carolina Dept. of Health & Environmental Control Marc Los Huertos California State University, Monterey Bay Michael Lyons Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Peter Ode California Department of Fish and Game Emilie Reyes State Water Resources Control Board Fraser Shilling University of California, Davis Marco Sigala Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Eric Stein Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Thomas Suk Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board Martha Sutula Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Karen Taberski San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Karen Vargas Bureau Water Quality Planning, Nevada Div. Env. Protection Pavlova Vitale Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board Christine Weilhoefer United States Environmental Protection Agency

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  • LIST OF ACRONYMS

    ABL Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory AFDM Ash-free Dry Mass ALU Aquatic Life Uses BMI Benthic Macroinvertebrate CMAP California Monitoring and Assessment Program CRAM California Rapid Assessment Method CS Coastal Southern part of the State (currently developing algae indices) CWAM California Watershed Assessment Manual DO Dissolved Oxygen EMAP Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program EU European Union HABs Harmful Algal Blooms IBI Index of Biotic Integrity LR Lahontan Region (where a preliminary algal index has been developed) MLOEs Multiple Lines of Evidence NAEMP National Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring Program (South Africa) NAWQA National Water Quality Assessment Program NNE Nutrient Numeric Endpoint NPDES National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System O/E Observed/Expected PHab Physical Habitat PSA Perennial Stream Assessment QAPP Quality Assurance Project Plan RCMP Reference Condition Management Program RIVPACS River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System RWQCB Regional Water Quality Control Board SAFIT Southwest Association of Freshwater Invertebrate Taxonomists SCCWRP Southern California Coastal Water Research Project SEM Scanning Electron Microscope/Microscopy SMC Stormwater Monitoring Coalition SNARL Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory SWAMP Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program SWRCB State Water Resources Control Board TAC Technical Advisory Committee TMDL Total Maximum Daily Load USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency USGS United States Geological Survey WFD Water Framework Directive (European Union)

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  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Acknowledgements........................................................................................................................ i List of Acronyms ........................................................................................................................... ii Table of Contents......................................................................................................................... iii Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................1 Introduction and Problem Statement ............................................................................................4 Objectives AND guiding principles................................................................................................6 Algal Assemblages as bioindicators .............................................................................................8

    Definition of Algae.....................................................................................................................8 Benefits of Algae-based Bioassessment...................................................................................9

    Applications of algae for bioassessment.....................................................................................12 Use of Algae by Other States and Countries ..........................................................................12 Development and Implementation of Algae-based Bioassessment in California....................13 Integration and Leveraging with Existing Bioassessment .......................................................15

    Technical issues and recommendations for indicator development and implementation ...........17 Potential Indicators: Pros and Cons........................................................................................17 Types and Applications of Algal Indicators .............................................................................20

    Measurement of biomass....................................................................................................20 Choice of algal assemblage ................................................................................................21 Laboratory and taxonomic issues .......................................................................................23

    Sampling Issues......................................................................................................................24 Sampling design..................................................................................................................24 Additional parameters to measure in the field.....................................................................26

    Analytical Issues .....................................................................................................................27 Assemblage data reduction and interpretation....................................................................27 Examples of metrics used in algal IBIs ...............................................................................27 Reference sites ...................................................................................................................29

    Integration with Other Biomonitoring Data ..................................................................................31 Complementarity of Bioindicators – Responses to Stress ......................................................31 Complementarity of Bioindicators – Varying Temporal Scales ...............................................31

    Summary of recommendations ...................................................................................................33 Appendix A: Summary of AlgaL Bioassessment in Other States............................................ A - 1 Appendix B: Summary of AlgaL Bioassessment in SELECTED Other Countries................... B - 1 Appendix C: Example of a Protocol for Sampling Algae......................................................... C - 1

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  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    This document was written to assist California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) with incorporating algae into the bioassessment toolbox of the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). It represents a consensus among members of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) regarding the best next steps toward implementation of algal bioassessment in the State. Recommendations were based on a combination of 1) information gathered from an extensive literature review, 2) a survey of algal bioassessment efforts that have occurred in parts of California and of programs in other states and countries, and 3) the best professional judgment of TAC members. We recommend that the State include algae as a component of SWAMP monitoring, in terms of both algal biomass and taxonomic composition of algal assemblages, the latter of which can be used in Indices of Biotic Integrity (IBIs). Algae will provide information beyond that which is currently obtainable through bioassessment with benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs) alone. The following are some of the advantages to including algae in SWAMP monitoring:

    • Addition of an algal component to SWAMP bioassessment (in which BMIs are currently the sole bioindicator) will satisfy the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recommendation to utilize multiple bioindicators, and will facilitate the “weight-of-evidence” approach to interpretation of biomonitoring results. This a

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