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421-605 Project Assessment B

421-605 Managing Water Borne Risks Department of Environmental Engineering University of Melbourne

Project B: Sampling and Monitoring Port Phillip Bay Water Quality Monitoring Scheme

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Group Members Michelle Bills, 306470 Nilufar Khundakar, 346605 (Group Leader) Jigme Tsering, 331469

Course Coordinator: Dr Graham Moore Date: 9 th October 2009

421-605 Project Assessment B

Executive Summary

The Port Phillip Bay Water Quality Monitoring Scheme (PPBWQMS) has set both short-term and long-term monitoring objectives to assess the possibility of algal blooms occurring in Port Phillip Bay,

This proposal has the overall objective of increasing the Victorian Government’s ability to understand and manage the impact of nitrogen inputs to the Bay (a complex system). It will also provide the mechanisms to determine the effectiveness of nutrient management activities in protecting Bay.

Nitrogen can enter water environments from a number of sources such as agricultural fertilisers and drainage, septic tanks, sewage discharges, animal wastes and urban stormwater. Eleven sites have been selected to inform the monitoring objectives, including two reference sites. The main parameters being assessed event based/fortnightly/monthly include:

Chlorophyll A (key indicator for nutrients)

Nitrogen (NH 3 , NO X and total – assessing the extent eutrophication)

Suspended solids (assessing water clarity)

Oxygen,

Dissolved

pH,

Salinity,

turbidity

and

temperature

(Best

Management

Practice).

Instantaneous (alert levels) and yearly (statistical analysis) reporting will provide the Victoria Government with the required information to inform management (e.g. enforcement, better practice, water sensitive urban design, education).

The PPBWQMS is a five year program that deals specifically with water quality (nitrogen) and algal communities of Port Phillip Bay. The delivery of this proposal has a budgeted cost of $750,000 (including data analysis and reporting).

421-605 Project Assessment B

Contents Page

Executive Summary

2

1

Context

4

1.1 Port Philip Bay

4

1.2 Algal Blooms

5

2

Monitoring Objectives

6

2.1 SEPP Guidelines

7

2.2 National Water Quality Management Strategy

7

2.3 Current management

8

3

Monitoring Program

8

3.1 Sampling Sites

8

3.2 Water Quality Parameters

9

3.3 Water Quality Analysis

9

3.4 Sampling Frequency

9

3.5 Effectiveness of monitoring program

10

4

Data Analysis and Reporting

11

4.1 Nitrogen and Algal Statistical Analysis

11

4.2 Data Storage

11

4.3 Comparison with Guidelines

11

4.4 Reporting

11

5 Adaptive Management

12

6 Monitoring Budget

12

7 References

13

8 Appendices

14

Appendix A: Major waterway outfalls into Port Phillip Bay

14

Appendix B: Port Phillip Bay Nutrient Monitoring Sampling Sites

15

Appendix C: Sampling Sites - Physical and Descriptive Attributes

16

Front cover photos:

1&2: Algal Bloom (1) and Spider Crab Mortality (2) (Victorian Government, 2008)

3,4,5&6: Marine and Coastal Pollution (3), Urban and Industrial Sources (4,5&6) (Molloy,

2009)

421-605 Project Assessment B

1

Context

This Port Phillip Bay Water Quality Monitoring Scheme (PPBWQMS) is intended to provide the Victorian Government with a prioritised set of specific monitoring actions to be undertaken to inform the possibility of algal blooms occurring via nitrogen inputs into Port Phillip Bay.

Ongoing monitoring and reporting to assess the inputs of nitrogen entering the Bay is an essential component of future management and evaluation. Monitoring options have been recommended to:

Set clear and measurable objectives

Establish trigger levels, where management intervention may be required

Monitoring program to assess the major inputs of nitrogen into the Bay

Provide an evaluation and reporting process.

1.1 Port Philip Bay

The Port Philip Bay is an important port for Australia, it also supports major commercial and recreational fishing, providing habitat for 300 fish species and several hundred species of crustaceans, jellyfish, corals and sea sponges (Victorian Government, 2008).

Port Phillip Bay is a large (surface area = 1930km 2 ) and shallow (maximum depth = 24m) coastal embayment. However the catchment area that influences the health of the Bay is large (9790km) as well as a population of over 3.7 million people living around the Bay (EPA, 2002).

A four year Environmental Study (CSIRO, 1996) concluded that the number one threat to the Bay was the nitrogen input from the surrounding catchment (Dr Vincent Pettigrove, Melbourne Water, pers. comm., 2009).

“Strategies to reduce Nitrogen loads to the Bay should give this recommendation highest priority” (CSIRO, 1996, p28).

421-605 Project Assessment B

421-605 Project Assessment B Figure 1: Port Phillip Bay and its surrounding catchments 1.2 Algal Blooms

Figure 1: Port Phillip Bay and its surrounding catchments

1.2 Algal Blooms

While nitrogen is important for plants and animal growth, if an excessive amount of nitrogen is present, algal blooms and nuisance plant growths could occur in the Bay. This can lead to a reduction in habitat for plants and animals and can threaten the valuable aquatic ecosystems the Bay supports (e.g. depleted oxygen levels that cause extensive fish kills) (EPA, 2003).

Event: shellfisheries in Port Phillip Bay were affected in 1987 by a bloom of the diatom, Rhizolenia chunii. As a consequence of this bloom, mussels, flat oysters and scallops within the Bay developed a bitter flavour making them unmarketable for seven months causing an estimated loss of $1 million (Robinson and Cully, 2009).

This monitoring program is targeting nitrogen inputs into the Bay, however it is recognised that there are many other environmental influences on the Bay (e.g. high temperatures, toxicants, exotic species).

The design of this monitoring program is based on the current understanding that increased nitrogen inputs to the Bay will be rapidly transformed to phytoplankton biomass potentially causing severe problems for the Bay.

“In Port Phillip Bay it is now well understood that nitrogen is the nutrient primarily controlling the extent of eutrophication” (EPA, 2002, p5).

421-605 Project Assessment B

2 Monitoring Objectives

Monitoring of the Bay commenced in 1984, although some sites have been discontinued and chemical analysis methods have changed (EPA, 2003). Therefore the PPBWQMS has established both short-term and long-term monitoring objectives with regard to assessing the potential of algal blooms in the Bay.

The short-term objectives focus on providing the Victorian Government with information on the current state of nitrogen inputs to help identify water quality/algal community threats to the Bay. For the longer term, monitoring is targeted at developing a baseline dataset to enable trend analysis and critical assessment of the relationship between nitrogen inputs and algal bloom development.

Short-term objectives for the monitoring program are to:

o

Provide an overview of water quality (nitrogen) in the Port Phillip Bay and various sites of influence to the Bay.

o

Compare annual water quality conditions and assess compliance with guideline and trigger values recommended in the Victorian State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) and National Water Quality Management Strategy.

o

Provide an annual time series analysis of nitrogen and algal communities to identify seasonal changes and interactions.

o

Identify management practices that have the potential to improve water quality from the various inputs that enter the Bay.

Long-term objectives for the monitoring program are to:

o

Establish relationships between water quality and management practices.

o

Provide a historic time series analysis of nitrogen and algal communities to identify long-term trends and interactions.

o

Identify management practices that have potential to improve water quality in the Bay.

Long-term condition monitoring will provide information on whether the water quality (nitrogen) from the various inputs to the Bay are causing a change in or maintaining the overall condition of the Bay (trend over time).

421-605 Project Assessment B

2.1 SEPP Guidelines

SEPP objectives have been set to provide assessment criteria to inform water quality in rivers (upland and lowland), estuaries, freshwater lakes and reservoirs. This information has been adapted to inform this PPBWQMS and is illustrated in Table 1 below.

Table 1: General SEPP Environmental Objectives in relation to percentage compliance (EPA, 2002)

Parameter

Trigger level

 

Compliance

   

Low

Medium

High

Ammonia as N (NH 3 )

0.02

mg/L

<90% within

90-95% within

>95% within

 

guideline

guideline

guideline

Nitrate and Nitrite as N (NO x )

0.04

mg/L

<90% within

90-95% within

>95% within

 

guideline

guideline

guideline

Total Kjeldahl

0.5 mg/L

<90% within

90-95% within

>95% within

(TKN)

guideline

guideline

guideline

Total Suspended Solids (mg/L)

50 mg/L

<90% within

90-95% within

>95% within

guideline

guideline

guideline

Chlorophyll-a (Cl- a) & Phaeophytin-a

5 µg/L

<90% within

90-95% within

>95% within

(1.5-4 µg/L)

guideline

guideline

guideline

2.2 National Water Quality Management Strategy

The following national trigger levels for recreational waters have been set by Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC Guidelines). These levels (Table 2) provide default national guideline values to inform the PPBWQMS evaluation phase (Moss, Brodie and Furnas, 2004).

Table 2: National Water Quality Guidelines (ANZECC, 2000)

Water Quality Parameter

Trigger level

Ammonia as N (NH 3 )

0.01

mg/L

Nitrate and Nitrite as N (NO x )

0.04

mg/L

Total Nitrogen

0.350 mg/L

Chlorophyll-a

5 µg/L

Dissolved Oxygen

>6.5 mg/L (>80% Saturation)

pH

6.5-8.5

Turbidity

20 NTU

Total Dissolved Solids

1,000 mg/L

421-605 Project Assessment B

2.3 Current management

It is important to briefly mention the work already undertaken to get to the current understanding of how the Bay interacts with its surrounding environment and aid the design of the PPBWQMS. The following monitoring programs monitor the Bays water quality:

Water Quality Monitoring Program

Beach Monitoring Program

Turbidity Monitoring Program

Plume Intensity & Extent Monitoring Program

Nutrient Cycling Monitoring Program

Water Quality in Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Monitoring Program

Bacterial

Contamination

in

the

Yarra

River

Monitoring

Program

Government, 2009).

(Victorian

The intention of this monitoring program is to build on the above existing monitoring programs that will inform the analysis of nitrogen inputs into the Bay.

3 Monitoring Program

This section provides details regarding in situ monitoring of water quality, the collection of water and algal samples, and the types of analysis performed on the samples.

3.1 Sampling Sites

The relative contributions of major nitrogen input sources have been approximated to:

Catchment waterways, 35–45%

Western Treatment Plant 1 , 40–50%

Atmospheric inputs, 10–15%

Groundwater, 5% (DNRE, 2002).

In reviewing the current water quality programs (namely EPA, 2002) the following sites have been selected for the PPBWQMS:

1. Corio Bay (near industrial and domestic inputs)

2. Werribee (Long Reef site, 1km from the treatment plant)

3. Hobsons Bay (incorporating the Yarra-Maribyrnong rivers influence on the Bay)

4. Mordialloc / Patterson / Kananook Waterways (east side of the Bay)

Reference

5. sites

(Central and Dromana – considered distant from catchment

influences)

Refer to Appendix A, PPBWQMS.

B

and

C for further

information on the sites selected for

the

The average annual Bay Nitrogen load over 1991–1995 was approximately

o

3,500 tonnes from Western Treatment Plant

o

1800 tonnes from the Yarra–Maribyrnong Rivers

o

1300 tonnes from other rivers, creeks and drains

o

1000 tonnes from the atmosphere

Nitrogen inputs also enter major cycling processes through the Bay’s sediments, water, plants and animals, involving finely balanced transformations and fluxes (CSIRO, 1996).

1 The Western Treatment Plant treats approximately 52% of Melbourne's sewage (485 million litres a day)

421-605 Project Assessment B

3.2 Water Quality Parameters

Chlorophyll a is considered the key indicator for nutrients and is used as it is an integrative measure of nutrient status (EPA, 2002). Nitrogen (NH 3 , NO x and total) and suspended solids (water clarity) will also be tested for (Refer to Table 3 below).

It is best management practice to monitor for the following additional parameters:

Dissolved Oxygen, pH, Salinity, turbidity and temperature

This will enable a better understanding of the interactions occurring at the time of sampling and will be useful in reporting an incident.

3.3 Water Quality Analysis

Melbourne Water personnel will collect water quality and algal samples at each of the five site areas. Physical and descriptive attributes of each site is listed in Appendix C. The additional water quality parameters will be tested using a suitable hand hold in situ meter.

Water quality samples collected from each site will be analysed at a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory. Variables assessed as part of this monitoring program as well as the methods used are presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Water quality analysis methods and detection limits

Parameter

Detection Limit

Method

Ammonia as N (NH 3 )

0.002 mg/L

Automated ascorbic acid molybdite colorimetric analysis

Nitrate and Nitrite as N (NO x )

0.003 mg/L

Cd

reduction followed by

colorimetric method using

diazotisation

Total Kjeldahl (TKN)

0.01

mg/L

Acid digestion using Hg catalyst followed by colormetric analysis using salicylate hypochlorite

Chlorophyll-a (Cl-a) & Phaeophytin-a

0.05

µg/L

ISO International Standard Spectrophotometric method using a

 

UV

Spectrophotometer

Suspended Solids

N/A

Measured by weight after filtering water sample through a glass filter membrane (0.45 µm)

3.4 Sampling Frequency

Samples are generally required fortnightly from summer to autumn and monthly from winter to spring (EPA, 2002). The sampling frequency will vary between each site, with sites known or considered to be susceptible to algal blooms and/or high nutrient levels monitored more frequently than others.

Event based monitoring will occur for peak events (e.g. peak rainfall events). This will target the large proportion of the nitrogen input (80–90%) that occurs during run-off events occurring for less than 10% of the time (DNRE, 2002).

The Victorian Government will inform the PPBWQMS implementation group should additional monitoring of the sites be required.

421-605 Project Assessment B

3.5 Effectiveness of monitoring program

To a large extent, the ability of this program to provide an early warning of a possible algal bloom event in the Bay (due to changes in the nitrogen cycle) will depend on the type, magnitude, duration and location of any possible impact (Longmore, 2000).

The temporal variability of surface water in the Bay is substantial, therefore an adaptive management program has been recommended (refer to Section 5). The temporal and spatial considerations, site selection, sampling precision, timing and frequency, and measurement parameters outlined in the PPBWQMS are considered appropriate to inform the monitoring objectives (refer to Table 4):

Selection of appropriate sampling sites: a total of eleven sites distributed throughout the Bay (including known areas of nitrogen inputs and reference sites).

Parameters to be monitored: Chlorophyll a, Nitrogen and suspended solids to inform the likelihood of an algal bloom event

Frequency of sampling: fortnightly / monthly

Table 4: PPBWQMS scale triplet (adapted from: Grayson and Moore, 2009)

 

Space

Time

Spacing

11

sites

Fortnightly to Monthly

Support

Water quality and algal samples

Instantaneous measurement at time of sample collected

Extent

11

sites assessing an area of

Five years initially, information from existing programs will be incorporated into the analysis

approximately 100 metres each

421-605 Project Assessment B

4

Data Analysis and Reporting

In

achieving the monitoring objectives (stated in Section 2) the following statistical analyses

of

data, storing of data and results and analysis the results will be undertaken.

4.1 Nitrogen and Algal Statistical Analysis

To aid the evaluation of nitrogen inputs and algal bloom potential, the following analysis activities will be undertaken:

Descriptive summary statistics and time series analysis of water quality and algal communities for each monitoring year. The range of data between the 25 th and 75 th percentiles will indicate the values that are considered to be “normal” or “expected”.

Comparison of test data with background data (reference sites) and trigger values.

Comparison to long-term statistics (data from other monitoring programs will be utilised.

Water quality modelling: methods of inference, multivariate analysis, power analysis, regression techniques, trend analysis (Longmore, 2000 and EPA, 2003).

4.2 Data Storage

The water quality information collected will be stored in a database (MS Access) and uploaded to the Victorian Water Quality Database (www.vicwaterdata.net).

4.3 Comparison with Guidelines

The general health of the Bay will be assessed by comparing water quality and algal communities with guideline and trigger values recommended by the Victorian SEPP for Waters of Victoria (EPA, 2003) and the National Water Quality Management Strategy (ANZECC, 2000). Following comparison with the guidelines, the percentage compliance of each parameter tested will be calculated using the equation below.

% Compliance = (Number of samples within guidelines / Total number of samples) x 100

A rating system will be employed to categorise the sites into a low, medium or high risk for

an algal bloom event.

4.4 Reporting

After each monitoring event a brief status report will be provided to the Victorian Government to report on the possibility of algal blooms occurring in the Bay. The following alert system outlined in Table 5 will be used.

Table 5: Alert Level triggers for PPBWQMS (Adapted from ANZECC, 2000 and EPA, 2003)

 

Toxic species not dominant

Toxic species dominant

Alert Level 1 - Low

0.05 - <0.5 µg/L

0.05 - <0.4 µg/L

Alert Level 2 - Medium

0.5 - 10 µg/L

0.5 - 5 µg/L

Alert Level 3 - High

10 µg/L

>5 µg/L

At the end of each monitoring year a report detailing the statistical analysis and compliance with water quality guidelines will be compiled (short-term monitoring objectives). At the end of the five year implementation of the PPBWQMS a major report will be provided to the Victorian Government to assess and evaluate whether the program is answering the long- term monitoring objectives.

421-605 Project Assessment B

5 Adaptive Management

Predicting how the Bay will respond to different levels of nitrogen inputs is difficult as the interactions between water, processes and biota are extremely complex. Adaptive management will provide the means through which this monitoring program and management interventions will be refined over time as new information and data become available. The proposed adaptive management framework for the PPBWQMS is shown in Figure 2.

management framework for the PPBWQMS is shown in Figure 2. Figure 2: PPBWQMS Adaptive Management Program

Figure 2: PPBWQMS Adaptive Management Program

6 Monitoring Budget

It is proposed that this monitoring program occurs for the next five years. On completion of this period the program will be formally reviewed to determine whether the program is providing adequate information into the long-term monitoring objectives.

It is anticipated that this five year program will cost $750,000 (including data analysis and reporting).

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7

References

ANZECC, 2000. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality. Vol 1, Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand, Canberra.

CSIRO, 1996. Port Phillip Bay Environmental Study, Melbourne. [Date accessed: 30 September 2009], available at: http://www.melbournewater.com.au/content/library/ publications/reports/rivers_and_creeks_reports/Port_Phillip_Bay_Environmental_Study.pdf

DNRE 2002, Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan: Background Document, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Melbourne.

EPA Victoria, 2003. State Environment Protection Policy. Waters of Victoria. Policy Impact Statement, June 2003

EPA Victoria, 2001. Environment Report: Port Phillip Bay Water Quality – Long-term trends in nutrient status and clarity, 1984-1999. Melbourne.

Grayson, R. and Moore, G., 2009. Sampling Issues and Instrumentation, Centre for Environmental Applied Hydrology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Longmore, A., 2000. Port Phillip Bay Nutrient Monitoring Proposal – Scientific and Technical Advice. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute Report No 16. Fisheries Victoria, Melbourne.

Molloy, R., 2009. Marine and Coastal Pollution – Urban and Industrial Sources, Presentation – 421-605 Managing Water Bourne Risks, University of Melbourne, 10 September

Moss, A., Brodie, J. and Furnas, M., 2004. Water quality guidelines for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: a basis for development and preliminary values, Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.

Robinson, J. and Cully, T., 2009. Australian Online Coastal Information, Coastal CRC [Date accessed: 30 September 2009], available at: http://www.ozcoasts.org.au/indicators/econ_ cons_algal_blooms.jsp

Victorian Government, 2008. Port Phillip Bay Natural Events, Office of Environmental Monitor, Melbourne.

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Appendices

Appendix A: Major waterway outfalls into Port Phillip Bay

B 8 Appendices Appendix A: Major waterway outfalls into Port Phillip Bay Group 202_Project B_Final.doc Page

421-605 Project Assessment B

Appendix B: Port Phillip Bay Nutrient Monitoring Sampling Sites

Assessment B Appendix B: Port Phillip Bay Nutrient Monitoring Sampling Sites Group 202_Project B_Final.doc Page 15

421-605 Project Assessment B

Appendix C: Sampling Sites - Physical and Descriptive Attributes

Site Area

Number of sites

Frequency

Comments

Corio Bay

1. Moolap outlet site

October-March - Fortnightly

 

(Near industrial and domestic inputs)

2. Avalon outlet site

April-September - Monthly

3. Bay site (downstream of influences)

Werribee

4. Downstream of two WTP outlet sites

October-March - Fortnightly

 

(Long Reef site, 1km from the treatment plant)

April-September - Monthly

5. Downstream of Little River – Bay

 

6. Downstream of the Werribee River

Hobsons Bay

7. Yarra River (Upstream of outfall to the Bay)

October-March - Fortnightly

 

(Incorporating the Yarra- Maribyrnong rivers influence on the Bay)

April-September - Monthly

8. Bay site (downstream of Yarra/Maribyrnong entrance to the Bay)

Mordialloc / Patterson / Kananook Waterways

9. Patterson River entrance to the Bay)

All year: Monthly

Potential “Hot Spot” – Sandringham Beach (may require more intensive monitoring)

(East side of the Bay)

Reference sites

10. Dromana

All year: Monthly

 

Central Bay and Dromana – considered distant from catchment influences

11. Central Bay

PPBWQMS Costs:

Sampling: $50 per sample (~$10,000 per year)

Water quality analysis: $200 per sample (including chlorophyll a) (~$40,000 per year)

Reporting: Instant and yearly reports ($100,000 per year)

 

Five year program: $750,000 excl GST