News Release

CICEET Awards $3,182,826 for Environmental Technology Development

The Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) has awarded $3,182,826 to fund 12 environmental technology development projects for fiscal year 2005. These research awards will help address pressing concerns for the coastal management community, including harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring, stormwater and wastewater treatment, eelgrass restoration, and contaminated sediment remediation. The research will take place at National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) sites in California, Florida, Alabama, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Maine. Each of these projects was selected through an independent, peer-reviewed, competitive process. The program's Request for Proposals for 2006 projects will be released in October 2005.

Fiber Optic Technology to Assess Harmful Algal Blooms
Handheld Sensor to Detect Florida’s Red Tide
User-Friendly Field Tool to Monitor Microbial Contaminants
Enhanced Tool to Characterize Oxygen-poor Waters
New System to Assess Sediment Quality in Situ
Sensor to Monitor Organic Pollutants in Situ
Technology to Extend Life and Usefulness of Sediment Caps
Cost-effective Technique to Remove Nitrogen from Wastewater
Nature-based Method to Remove Microbes from Stormwater
Wood Filter Technology to Treat Stormwater
New Eelgrass Restoration Method Mimics Natural Process
Low-cost Retrofits for Tide Gates and Tidal Marsh Culverts

Project Title: Fiber Optic Microarray to Detect and Enumerate Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Species

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Donald Anderson
CICEET Investment: $324,471
NERRS Site: Wells, Maine

Summary: The largest outbreak of red tide in decades has stretched from the coast of Maine to the shores of Cape Cod this summer, resulting in huge economic losses to the shellfish and tourism industries, and moving states of Massachusetts and Maine to declare a State of Emergency. Consuming shellfish contaminated by harmful algal blooms (HABs) such as red tide can cause vomiting, memory loss, paralysis, and sometimes death. Rapid detection has become increasingly important as HABs become more common. Methods currently used by public health agencies can be time consuming and costly, and put a strain on state and local monitoring programs. This project’s investigators have developed an innovative, multi-species method that uses fiber optic technology to quickly and accurately detect multiple HAB species in a single sample. CICEET’s investment will help to refine this technology for lab and field use. Investigators will work with coastal managers to ensure that the tool’s precision and detection limits meet user needs.

Interested in monitoring HABs? CICEET has also invested in:
Application of an Inexpensive Microarray to Assess Microbiological Contaminants
Assay and Sensor to Identify, Detect, and Quantify Microbial Contaminants
Application of a Continuous Imaging Flow Cytometer for Monitoring Estuarine Microplankton

back to top ^

Project Title: Multichannel Handheld Sensor for Microbial Contaminants

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. John Paul
CICEET Investment: $300,956
NERRS Site: Apalachicola, Florida, and Guana Tolomato Matanzas, Florida

Summary: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) such as red tide threaten human and ecological health, and are responsible for an estimated $50 million in medical expenses and losses in the shellfish, finfish, recreation, and tourist industries. Current red tide monitoring methods are labor-, skill-, and equipment-intensive, and sometimes inaccurate. This project’s investigators have already developed a faster, more sensitive method of detecting Florida’s red tide microbe. Working with the State of Florida’s Bureau of Aquaculture Environmental Services, investigators will adapt this costly, sophisticated technology into a field-ready, fast acting, handheld sensor for use by non-technical personnel.

Interested in monitoring HABs? CICEET has also invested in:
Application of an Inexpensive Microarray to Assess Microbiological Contaminants
Assay and Sensor to Identify, Detect, and Quantify Microbial Contaminants
Application of a Continuous Imaging Flow Cytometer for Monitoring Estuarine Microplankton

back to top ^

Project Title: Portable Electrochemical Biosensor to Monitor Microbial Contaminants

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Kelly Goodwin
CICEET Investment: $234,340
NERRS Site: Rookery Bay, Florida

Summary: Fast, portable, and accurate—that describes the tools that coastal managers need when deciding whether to close beaches and shellfish beds due to contamination by microbes such as fecal bacteria or harmful algae. However, current culture and microscopy-based tools can take days to incubate, and may not accurately report the extent of the contamination. This sometimes leads to unnecessary closures that impact local economies, as well as failures to close contaminated areas. Working with an industrial partner and the Florida Department of Health, this project’s investigators seek to develop an effective, user-friendly field instrument that quantifies both fecal indicators and harmful algae and tracks their sources.

Interested in fecal indicator monitoring? CICEET has also invested in:
Microbial Source Tracking in Two Southern Maine Watersheds
Microplate Assay Development for Detecting Microbial Contaminants
Application of an Inexpensive Microarray for Assessment of Microbiological Contaminants in Water Quality Control
F + RNA Coliphages as Source Tracking Viral Indicators of Fecal Contamination
Microbial source tracking Using F-specific Coliphages and Quantitative PCR
New Autonomous Technology for Monitoring Microbial Indicators of Fecal Contamination in Coastal Waters
Environmental Factors Affecting Use of Ribotyping to Identify Fecal Contamination Sources in Estuaries
Field Testing Targeted Sampling and Enterococcus faecalis to Identify Human Fecal Contamination in Three National Estuarine Research Reserves

Interested in monitoring HABs? CICEET has also invested in:
Application of an Inexpensive Microarray to Assess Microbiological Contaminants
Assay and Sensor to Identify, Detect, and Quantify Microbial Contaminants
Application of a Continuous Imaging Flow Cytometer for Monitoring Estuarine Microplankton

back to top ^

Project Title: Improved Performance Capabilities for the Acrobat Towed Instrument Platform: Data Collection, Calibration, and Interpolation/Graphic Visualization

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Leonard Haas
CICEET Investment: $199,995
NERRS Site: Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Summary: Excessive amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from farm and stormwater runoff, and wastewater can fuel algal blooms in coastal waters. To respond effectively, coastal managers need to understand the scope and severity of coastal and estuarine oxygen depletion. The Acrobat, a small, undulating towed instrument, has successfully mapped the depth and distance of oxygen-poor zones. Increasing Acrobat’s capability to collect other types of data, however, would give coastal managers a better understanding of the scope of low oxygen areas. This project’s investigators plan to enhance Acrobat with the ability to collect multiple water samples and additional data such as dissolved oxygen while underway. An added GIS component will give managers a 3D graphical representation of dissolved oxygen distribution.

Interested in monitoring low-oxygen conditions? CICEET also has invested in:
In Situ Nutrient Monitoring in Estuaries
Advanced Laser Fluorescence (ALF) Technology for Estuarine and Coastal Environmental Biomonitoring
An Autonomous Profiler for Estuarine Research and Monitoring
DATAVIEW: Real-Time, Spatially-Explicit Visualization Interface and Monitoring System for Estuarine and Coastal Water Quality Data

back to top ^

Project Title: Development of a Sediment Profile Imaging and Micro-sampling System (SPIMS) to Evaluate Bedded Sediment Quality

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Marion Nipper
CICEET Investment: $207,491
NERRS Site: San Francisco Bay, California

Summary: Pollutants such as heavy metals and PCBs that threaten human and ecosystem health have contaminated approximately 10 percent of the sediments in U.S. waters. Sediment analysis is the critical first step toward addressing this problem. Traditionally, this has required transferring a sample from the source to the lab, a process that sometimes alters the sample’s condition, and consequently, the test’s results. At the same time, recent research indicates that vertical sampling profiles provide a great deal of information about the ecological processes in sediments. This project’s investigators have designed a sediment profile imaging and micro-sampling system (SPIMS) to collect sediment profiles in situ. SPIMS uses digital imagery to precisely guide a sampling and measurement device. CICEET’s investment will help investigators construct and field test this system. If successful, it will allow the simultaneous study of benthic ecology, ecotoxicology and sediment geochemistry.

Interested in contaminated sediment remediation? CICEET also has invested in:
Pilot-Scale Reactive Barrier Technologies for Containment of Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Materials
In-situ Treatment of PCBs in Marine and Freshwater Sediments using Colloidal Zero-Valent Iron
Development of Reuse Alternatives for the Management of Dredged, Contaminated Sediments
Technology Development for Contaminated Coastal and Estuarine Environments: Hydrogen-enhanced Remediation of Capped and Natural Sediments
Enclosed Excavator for Contaminated Sediment Removal from Coastal Aquatic Environments
Polychlorinated Biphenyl Remediation in Sediments: Pilot Scale Demonstration
Development of a Technology for In Situ Remediation of PAH Contaminated Sediment

back to top ^

Project Title: In situ Sediment Porewater Sensor to Detect Organic Micropollutants Using Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME) Technology

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Keith Maruya
CICEET Investment: $367,519
NERRS site: Tijuana River, California and Elkhorn Slough, California

Summary: Widespread contamination by toxic, hydrophobic organic chemicals such as PAHs and PCBs in estuary sediments threaten coastal environments. Protecting these resources and the surrounding communities requires that we monitor the extent of the contamination and determine how much of the toxic material is bioavailable, and therefore toxic, for marine animals and people. Federal, state, regional, and local regulators are collaborating with scientists and industry to establish sediment quality objectives to limit future damage. Currently, these efforts are hampered by incongruent data gathered from model predictions (rather than field observations) and a lack of sensitive, affordable, in situ measurement tools. This project’s investigators seek to develop and test a cost-effective sensor based on SPME technology that will measure the bioavailability of organic micropollutants in sediment in situ, and then compare this process to traditional methods.

Interested in contaminated sediment remediation? CICEET also has invested in:
Pilot-Scale Reactive Barrier Technologies for Containment of Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Materials
In-situ Treatment of PCBs in Marine and Freshwater Sediments using Colloidal Zero-Valent Iron
Development of Reuse Alternatives for the Management of Dredged, Contaminated Sediments
Technology Development for Contaminated Coastal and Estuarine Environments: Hydrogen-enhanced Remediation of Capped and Natural Sediments
Enclosed Excavator for Contaminated Sediment Removal from Coastal Aquatic Environments
Polychlorinated Biphenyl Remediation in Sediments: Pilot Scale Demonstration
Development of a Technology for In Situ Remediation of PAH Contaminated Sediment

back to top ^

Project Title: Predicting and Validating Field Performance of Novel Sorbent Sediment Caps

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Greg Lowry
CICEET Investment: $222,981
NERRS Site: Hudson River, New York

Summary: Coastal and estuarine sediments contaminated by toxic chemicals such as PCBs and PAHs are long-term problems that are often treated with a short-term solution—capping. Preferred over dredging because they reduce problems associated with contaminant re-suspension, loss of habitat, and disposal, caps made from sand and other materials can be compromised, allowing pollutants to escape. This project’s investigators have developed a thin sorbent layer that works in conjunction with a cap to absorb and trap contaminants. Model simulations indicate this layer could extend the effective life of a cap by hundreds of years, while avoiding the pitfalls of dredging. CICEET’s investment will allow investigators to field test this technology to determine what affects cap performance; to develop methods of accurately interpreting performance data; and to design criteria for specific site variables including hydrology and geochemistry.

Interested in contaminated sediment remediation? CICEET also has invested in:
Pilot-Scale Reactive Barrier Technologies for Containment of Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Materials
In-situ Treatment of PCBs in Marine and Freshwater Sediments using Colloidal Zero-Valent Iron
Development of Reuse Alternatives for the Management of Dredged, Contaminated Sediments
Technology Development for Contaminated Coastal and Estuarine Environments: Hydrogen-enhanced Remediation of Capped and Natural Sediments
Enclosed Excavator for Contaminated Sediment Removal from Coastal Aquatic Environments
Polychlorinated Biphenyl Remediation in Sediments: Pilot Scale Demonstration
Development of a Technology for In Situ Remediation of PAH Contaminated Sediment

back to top ^

Project Title: Integrated Biofilm Reactor for Nitrogen Removal from Wastewater

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Robert Nerenberg
CICEET Investment: $258,290
NERRS Site: Hudson River, New York

Summary: Every summer, a “dead zone” the size of New Jersey appears in the Gulf of Mexico. In the zone, oxygen levels sink so low that many species—including economically valuable finfish and shellfish—cannot survive. Dead zones are the byproduct of algal blooms that can flourish from the nitrogen­ and phosphorus rich runoff from agricultural fields and stormwater and wastewater treatment facility effluent. Scientists estimate there are more than 100 dead zones worldwide, ranging in size from less than one square mile to 27,000 square miles. Removing nitrogen from wastewater treatment effluent prior to release is a critical step in reducing the size and frequency of dead zones. However, traditional removal technology is often beyond the budget and space constraints of wastewater treatment facilities. This project’s investigators will conduct bench and pilot scale tests of a membrane-biofilm reactor that removes nitrogen from wastewater using a facility’s existing sludge basin. If successful, this project will provide a way to remove nitrogen with minimal capital and operational costs.

Interested in nutrient removal from wastewater and coastal waters? CICEET has also invested in:
Evaluation of Leachfield Aeration Technology for Improvement of Water Quality and Hydraulic Functions in Onsite Wastewater
Mitigating the Effects of Excess Nutrients in Coastal Waters through Bivalve Aquaculture and Harvesting
Use of Permeable Reactive Barriers to Reduce the Release of Nitrate from Existing Septic Systems to Groundwater and Estuaries
Autotrophic Biological Dentrification with Hydrogen or Thiosulfate for Complete Removal of Nitrogen from a Septic System Wastewater
Effectiveness of Reactive Barriers for Reducing N-Loading to the Coastal Zone
Wastewater Treatment to Minimize Phosphorus Delivery from Dairy Farms to Receiving Waters
Wastewater Treatment to Minimize Nitrogen Delivery from Dairy Farms to Receiving Waters

back to top ^

Project Title: Using Bioretention to Transport and Capture Pathogens from Urban Stormwater Runoff

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Allen Davis
CICEET Investment: $205,536
NERRS Site: Jug Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Summary: Polluted stormwater runoff is one of the greatest threats to water quality nationwide, and a critical management issue for small communities and large urban centers alike. As stormwater travels over parking lots, lawns, and fields, it picks up a variety of pollutants including heavy metals, nitrogen, oil, and grease. It also collects animal and human fecal matter containing pathogenic bacteria and viruses that threaten human health and fisheries. Many communities use bioretention facilities to trap and treat stormwater before it reaches the shore. These facilities combine physical, chemical, and biological processes to capture and transform pollutants. Building on a previous CICEET project that used soils and mulches to remove heavy metals, suspended solids, and nutrients, investigators will test a nature-based method of capturing and destroying pathogens. Keeping operational and maintenance costs of the low technology will be a project priority.

Interested in stormwater treatment? CICEET also has invested in:
UNH Stormwater Center
Engineering Bioretention for Treatment of Stormwater Runoff
Sorptive Clarification as an Environmental Technology to Passively Treat Stormwater from Elevated Transportation Infrastructure
Development of a Decision Support Model for Compliance with the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program

back to top ^

Project Title: Field Demonstration of Wood Filter Technology for Stormwater Treatment

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Thomas Boving
CICEET Investment: $198,178
NERRS Site: Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Summary: Non-point source pollution, a byproduct of modern life, finds its way into coastal and estuarine environments via stormwater runoff. Once there, it impairs water quality, threatens fisheries and the local economy, and causes health problems. For many years, stormwater Best Management Practices were more adept at addressing water quantity than quality. However, methods that collect and trap water are often less successful in reducing dissolved contaminants. This project’s investigators will explore the effectiveness of wood filters to bind organic and inorganic contaminants in stormwater. In field and lab studies, they will evaluate the use of different wood species and sizes, determine the filters’ maintenance needs and life span, and create standard operating procedures for installation, maintenance, and disposal.

Interested in stormwater treatment? CICEET also has invested in:
UNH Stormwater Center
Engineering Bioretention for Treatment of Stormwater Runoff
Sorptive Clarification as an Environmental Technology to Passively Treat Stormwater from Elevated Transportation Infrastructure
Development of a Decision Support Model for Compliance with the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program

back to top ^

Project Title: Evaluation of a Buoy-Deployed Seeding System to Restore Eelgrass (Zostera marina) in San Francisco Bay

Fast Facts:
PI: Dr. Katharyn Boyer
CICEET Investment: $342,742
NERRS Site: San Francisco Bay, California

Summary: Eelgrass meadows are an important habitat for a variety of finfish, shellfish, marine mammals, and other organisms. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the nation’s eelgrass habitat has been lost over the last 70 years due to dredging, nutrient pollution, and disease. However, as a result of better methods of wastewater treatment and an increased awareness of the importance of these habitats, some regions like the San Francisco Bay area have an opportunity to change this trend. Evidence suggests that there are existing stands of both perennial and annual eelgrass in the Bay, signifying conditions favorable for restoration. This project’s investigators will evaluate a buoy-deployed seeding system that mimics the natural dispersal of seeds, while taking into account the specific challenges and attributes of this urban estuary.

Interested in sea grass habitat assessment and restoration? CICEET also has invested in:
Large-Scale, Seed-Based Eelgrass Restoration
Modeling the Effects of Changes in Turbidity on Light Available for Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
Interactive GIS-based, Site Selection Model for Eelgrass Restoration on CD-ROM
Spatial Modeling of Eelgrass Habitat Change in Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Accessible Methodology for Monitoring Estuarine and Coastal Vegetation

back to top ^

Project Title: Controlled Closure Retrofit and Bi-directional Controlled Tide Gates: Low Cost Retrofits for Standard Tide Gates and Restricted Tidal Marsh Culverts

Fast Facts:
PI: Mr. Jeff Rogers
CICEET Investment: $239,790
NERRS Site: Wells, Maine

Summary: Salt marshes are protected habitats, but they are surrounded by development. Structures such as roads, bridges, and inadequate culverts impede tidal flow and inhibit the natural processes that make marshes some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Increased recognition of the importance of salt marshes has prompted nationwide efforts to restore these habitats. However, finding effective methods of improving tidal flow without rebuilding roads and bridges is a significant challenge. While self-regulating tide gates (SRTG) that allow tidal flow can be installed without completely disrupting traffic, few of these gates are commercially available, and most are cost prohibitive. SRTGs also lack validation from a thorough verification and monitoring process that would allow managers to predict long-term restoration outcomes. This project’s investigators seek to develop and verify two alternative SRTGs with minimum installation, maintenance, and permitting costs. They will work closely with the Wells NERR and the NOAA Restoration Center to determine site selection and develop monitoring and evaluation processes.

Interested in salt marsh restoration? CICEET also has invested in:
Refinement of Bacterial Growth Efficiency as an Index of Salt Marsh Function
Sediment Recycling: Marsh Renourishment through Dredge Material Disposal
Spatial Modeling and Visualization of Salt Marsh Habitat Change in the Great Bay NERR
Organic Baffles to Improve Salt Marsh Stability and Water Quality
Enhancement of Salt Marsh Reestablishment to Improve Water Quality

back to top ^

The Cooperative Institute for Coastal & Estuarine Environmental Technology is a partnership of the University of New Hampshire and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CICEET is dedicated to the development of tools for clean water and healthy coasts nationwide.