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Draft Recommendations of the Water & Air Quality Working Group - April 28, 1999

Assessment, Criteria and Standards
Sediments
Nutrients
Other Chemical and Biological Pollutants
Education and Outreach Activities
Implementation Tools


BACKGROUND: The centerpiece of the U.S. government’s Year of the Ocean activities was the National Oceans Conference held in Monterey, California in June of last year. Among the Administration initiatives announced at the conference was the Executive Order (E.O.) on coral reefs, which was signed by President Clinton on June 11, 1998. It directed federal agencies to expand research, preservation and restoration activities to protect coral reef ecosystems.

The Order also created the interagency Coral Reef Task Force to oversee implementation of the policy and Federal agency responsibilities set forth in the E.O. At the first meeting of the Task Force, which took place in October, 1998, members created five working groups to address issues relevant to the protection of coral reef ecosystems. The working groups are: Water and Air Quality (EPA lead); Coastal Uses (NOAA lead); Ecosystem Science and Conservation (DOI lead); Mapping and Information Synthesis (NASA and NOAA co-lead); and International (State Department lead). The working groups were charged with developing draft proposals to be presented at the second meeting of the Task Force, which was held in March, 1999. This report is a revised version of what the Water & Air Quality Working Group presented at the Task Force meeting.

WATER & AIR QUALITY WORKING GROUP CHARGE: The Water & Air Quality Working Group is charged with developing, recommending, and seeking or securing implementation of measures necessary to reduce and mitigate coral reef ecosystem degradation due to water-borne and air-borne sources of pollution.

SUMMARY OF KEY ISSUES/THREATS/PROBLEMS: The Water & Air Quality Working Group is focusing its initial efforts on activities which will improve our ability to assess the biological and physical conditions of coral reefs to better address their degradation, and the major types of pollution impacting coral reef ecosystems. Threats to coral reef ecosystems were discussed at a one day seminar held in conjunction with the second meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in March 1999. Water quality problems identified as priorities by seminar presenters included sediments and nutrients. These pollutants take on additional importance relative to coral reefs because they are also leading pollution problems in rivers, lakes, and estuaries, all of which eventually drain to the oceans, potentially affecting coral reef ecosystems. Compounding the problem is the fact that this nation has lost half its historic wetland resources, including coastal marshes and mangroves which are important elements of the coral reef ecosystem.

Consequently there are many efforts underway to address these problems. They include better control of animal feeding operations, buffer strips and wetland restoration to trap, filter and process pollutants, better management and technology for onsite sewage management, more effective stormwater regulation, and increased financial assistance to agricultural producers to reduce run-off of soil, nutrients and pesticides from farm fields. These and many other efforts are described more fully at: http:www.epa.gov/ow and http:www.cleanwater.gov. A Clean Water Action Plan, issued in February, 1998, provides a framework for improved protection of aquatic resources, and was accompanied by a request to Congress for a substantial funding increase to advance these efforts. The recommendations in this report will build on these existing efforts.

Finally this report also focuses on several other types of chemical and biological pollutants, as well as relevant education and outreach activities, and some of the types of tools available to help implement activities protective of coral reef ecosystems.

Biological and Physical Degradation

Threat/Issue: Loss of biological richness and physical degradation of coral reef ecosystems are due, in part, to degraded water quality and increased disease events. Environmentally insensitive development and land use practices, along with point and nonpoint sources of pollution that contribute toxic chemicals, sediments, nutrients, oil, sewage and debris to coastal waters, contribute to this degradation. Biological and physical degradation are even greater in areas where habitat loss has reduced nature’s ability to filter nutrients and pollutants before they reach the reefs.

Summarize current activities/abilities to address threat: In addition to the many provisions of the Clean Water Act that provide protection to coral reef ecosystems, the Clean Water Action Plan contains a number of actions that will help address, both directly and indirectly, some of the causes of biological and physical degradation to coral reef ecosystems. Relevant activities include: development of nutrient criteria; stream corridor and wetlands restoration; establishment of agricultural buffers; development of guidance on onsite sewage disposal management programs; and issuance of additional storm water regulations.

Summarize primary impediments to addressing threat: Adequate standards do not exist to measure coral ecosystem health. The development of narrative or physical guidelines that consider turbidity, light penetration, temperature, etc., are needed to establish baselines for gauging water quality. These standards can be combined with more sensitive biological indicators to assess changes and provide an early warning of stress.

Sediments

Threat/issue: Sediments can be introduced to waters through a wide variety of activities, including dredging, development, agriculture and timber harvesting. Sediments can adversely impact coral reef ecosystems by smothering the reefs themselves, and by reducing light penetration. Upland or shoreline projects may reduce or alter critical habitat (e.g. wetlands, mangroves) that filters sediments. Water-based dredging and development activities, such as harbor expansion and maintenance dredging, can impact reefs by covering them with suspended sediments. Sedimentation can be reduced, in part, by buffers such as wetlands and streamside vegetation, which trap sediments and keep them from reaching waterways and coral reefs.

Current activities/abilities to address threat: Clean Water Act Section 404 is the primary regulatory vehicle for addressing impacts of sediments on coral reef ecosystems from dredging and development activities. Persons proposing to conduct activities such as hotel or housing development in coastal wetlands or other waters, maintenance dredging of harbors, or building of bridges and roads, must obtain a Section 404 permit. This requirement also triggers other Federal environmental reviews, including evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and coordination with the States under CWA Section 401 to ensure projects are consistent with State water quality standards. The Section 404 permit evaluation must consider any direct, indirect or cumulative impacts to coral reefs that could result from the proposed project. Section 319 of the Clean Water Act provides grants to states to help implement nonpoint source management plans that address sediments, along with other types of nonpoint source pollutants. Section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Amendments and Reauthorization Act provides guidance to states regarding the effective control of nonpoint source pollution, including sediments, in coastal areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a number of programs designed to reduce sediment runoff from agricultural fields, including the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Primary impediments to addressing threat: Regarding the Clean Water Act Section 404 program, activities proposed in coastal areas that do not directly impact wetlands and other waters are not subject to Section 404, even though these activities may also have indirect effects on coral reefs.

Nutrients

Threat/issue: Nutrients can be transported to coastal and ocean waters through sewage treatment plant and vessel sewage discharges, agricultural and residential lawn runoff, and air deposition from automobile and electric utility emissions. Nutrients, in particular, may negatively impact coral reef ecosystems by inducing excessive algae growth, which, in turn, may decrease light penetration and result in lower levels of dissolved oxygen.

Current activities/abilities to address threat: Section 312 of the Clean Water Act establishes performance standards for Marine Sanitation Devices to treat sewage discharges from vessels, and gives states the authority to establish No Discharge Zones - areas in which sewage discharges are prohibited. The Clean Vessel Act provides grant funds to states to construct sewage pumpout facilities in marinas. The Clean Water Act also requires permits for facilities, such as sewage treatment plants, that discharge to waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released the Unified National Animal Feeding Operations Strategy which addresses, in part, the problem of nutrient loadings to waterways from livestock feeding operations. Both EPA and NOAA have activities to characterize air deposition to waterbodies. If air pollution from the U.S. is determined to be a significant cause of degradation of coral reefs, authorities under the Clean Air Act could be used to address the sources of pollution.

Primary impediments to addressing threat: Limited resources to fully enforce vessel sewage discharge regulations. Regarding air deposition, while there are large amounts of data showing that air deposition of pollutants affects terrestrial and estuarine ecosystems, there are far fewer data for open water where most reefs are located. Recent assessments by the World Meteorological Organization conclude that depending on the pollutant in question, atmospheric deposition may be the dominant source of pollutant loading to the ocean. Before accurate assessments of atmospheric deposition impact on coral reefs can be provided, however, more site-specific data are required to test and improve the models on which final conclusions will be based.

Other Chemical and Biological Pollutants

Threat/issue: Discharges of oil, garbage and ballast water from vessels, whether intentional or accidental, may negatively impact the health of coral reef ecosystems.

Current activities/abilities to address threat: Under the Uniform National Discharge Standards program, EPA and DOD are developing standards for operational discharges from armed forces vessels, and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships implements MARPOL provisions to regulate the discharge of oil, noxious liquid substances and garbage from all ships in U.S. waters. Introduction of invasive species from ballast water is being addressed under the National Invasive Species Act, and through a recently issued Executive Order on Invasive Species.

Primary impediments to addressing threat: Limited resources to fully enforce various vessel discharge regulations. In addition, there is not yet an environmentally safe way to prevent the spreading of invasive species from ballast water.

IMPORTANCE OF USING A WATERSHED APPROACH TO PROTECTING CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS - section still to be added.

3. PROPOSED ACTIONS AND STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS KEY THREATS

Actions proposed by the Water & Air Quality Working Group are grouped into the following categories: Assessment, Criteria and Standards; Sediments; Nutrients; Other Chemical and Biological Pollutants; Education and Outreach; and Implementation Tools. Detailed descriptions of these proposals follow.

4. LIST OF WORKING GROUP MEMBERS

Chair: J. Charles Fox, EPA; Diane Gelburd and Howard Hankin, USDA; Bill Brown, DOI; Roy Irwin and Richard Curry, National Park Service; Paula Allen, State of Florida; Joe Uravitch (coastal programs), Bruce Hicks (air program), and John Naughton, NOAA; Scott Newsham, Coast Guard; Paul Souza and Michael Molina, Fish & Wildlife Service; Nina Mendelson and Jessica Fehringer, DOJ; Dave Gulko, State of Hawaii; Billy Causey, Florida Keys NMS; Ben Haskell, NOAA Sanctuaries; Charles Chesnutt and John Studt, COE; Carmen Gonzalez, Puerto Rico ; Mike Gawel, Guam; Peter Barlas, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas; Paul Thomas, Virgin Islands; Lelei Peau, American Samoa; Phil Taylor and Doug James, National Science Foundation; and EPA representatives from the Office of Water, the Office of Air and Radiation, the Office of Research and Development, the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, the Office of General Council, and Regions 2, 4, 6, and 9.

Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
Assessment, Criteria and Standards

Activity #1: Develop guidance on biological assessment methods and biological indicators for coral reef protection based on the document: "Development of Biological Criteria for Coral Reef Ecosystem Assessment."

a. Description: EPA will complete technical guidance documents for development of biological assessment methods and narrative criteria for coral reefs.

  • Proposed time line: Start: 2001 -- Publish: 2003.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance documents available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, states, territories, and commonwealths (hereinafter "states") to develop biological assessments and narrative criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead with NOAA, DOI and states.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance and indicators; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical, etc. Need any relevant data and information.
  • Budget estimate: $200 K, 1 FTE for 3 years
  • b. Description:   EPA will develop a nationally consistent approach for developing and establishing biocriteria in state water quality standards, and for integrating biological assessment and criteria into the TMDL and NPDES permit programs.

  • Proposed time line: begin implementation throughout 2001 - 2005.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance and technical assistance available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, and states to develop criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead with NOAA, DOI and states.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance and indicators; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical, etc. Need any relevant data and information.
  • Budget estimate: $700 K, average 1.2 FTE per year for 5 years
  • Activity #2: Develop general narrative and/or numeric physical guidelines for coral reef health, as opposed to more complex chemical and biological factors, that a state or the federal government could use in the near-term to better manage various dredging and other projects with potential to damage coral reefs.

    Description: General narrative and/or physical criteria subset of biological criteria - develop model criteria focused on general condition or physical parameters, potentially addressing issues such as (1) a narrative standard regarding general protection of reef resources, based on narrative standards already existing in states’ water quality programs; and (2) guidelines for light penetration, sedimentation, salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, etc.

  • Proposed time line: Start: 2001 -- Publish 2002.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance documents and technical assistance available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, and states to develop criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead with NOAA, DOI and states. Important to liaison with the Florida DEP, and others, early.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance and indicators; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical, etc.
  • Budget estimate: (included in budget for Activity 1a: $50 K, 0.5 FTE for 1 year)
  • Activity #3: Develop nutrient guidance documents explaining methodologies that can be used to calculate nutrient criteria for coral reef protection.

    a. Description: By the end of the 1st quarter of 2000, EPA intends to publish nutrient guidance documents explaining methodologies that can be used to develop narrative nutrient criteria for coastal waters which could be beneficial to coral reefs in the Atlantic region. Delineation of nutrient ecoregions for Hawaii and the U.S. Territories is currently scheduled for 3rd quarter of 1999 through the 4th quarter of 2000. Delineation will be followed by development of nutrient guidance documents explaining methodologies that can be used to develop nutrient criteria for protection of Pacific region coral reefs.

  • Proposed time line: Start: 2001 -- Publish: 2002.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance documents available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, and states to develop criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead with NOAA, DOI and states. Important to liaison with the Hawaii DLNR, and others, early.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical.
  • Budget estimate: $200 K, 1 FTE for 2 years
  • b. Description: EPA will develop a nationally consistent approach for developing and establishing nutrient criteria in state water quality standards by developing their own criteria or using default EPA nutrient ranges applicable to their ecoregion(s); and for integrating nutrient criteria into the TMDL and NPDES permit programs.

  • Proposed time line: Implementation through 2001 - 2005.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance and technical assistance available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, and states to develop criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead with NOAA, DOI and states.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical, etc.
  • Budget estimate: $600 K, average 1.2 FTE per year over 5 years.
  • Activity #4: Research and development of methodologies and default numerical criteria for marine regions.

    Description: Based on an assessment of available science, conduct additional research as needed to produce guidance documents explaining methodologies that can be used to calculate numeric nutrient and biological criteria for coral reef protection. Publish default EPA numeric nutrient and biological criteria for marine eco-regions. Assess need for revised or additional numerical chemical criteria.

  • Proposed time line: Start: 2001 -- Publish: 2004.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Guidance documents available to federal agencies, EPA Regions, and states to develop criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead (ORD, OW co-leads) with NOAA, DOI and states. Important to liaison with others early.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Define research needs to enable development of methodologies for numerical nutrient and biological criteria. Need to take geographical variations into consideration when developing guidance and indicators; e.g. Atlantic v. Pacific, tropical v. sub-tropical, etc.
  • Budget estimate: $5 M, 1.0 FTE for 5 years.
  • Activity #5: Increase EPA support for the Clean Water Act Section 403(c) program.

    Description: A NPDES permit cannot be issued for discharges to waters beyond the 3 mile limit unless the permittee complies with special criteria established under Section 403(c) of the Clean Water Act, and it is determined that the discharge will not result in "unreasonable degradation of the marine environment". Under this activity, EPA will increase its support for the collection and evaluation of monitoring data, and will provide training to permit writers.

  • Proposed time line: Dependent on funding and on the NPDES permit renewal cycle.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: A stronger NPDES program for discharges to marine waters.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, states and territories.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Lack of funding.
  • Budget estimate: $3 million annually for ocean outfalls in areas that impact coral reef ecosystems.
  • Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
    Sediments

    Activity #1: EPA will coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to establish a special exclusion in the Section 404 Nationwide permit program to prohibit the use of any Nationwide permit for activities that would directly or indirectly impact coral reefs.

    Description: The Clean Water Act Section 404 Nationwide permit program provides authorization for activities in wetlands and other waters of the U.S. that have minimal individual and cumulative impacts. As a result of this coral reef exclusion, any proposed impacts to coral reefs would have to be evaluated under the individual permit process.

  • Proposed timeline: The current round of Nationwide permit revisions is scheduled to be completed by September 1999.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: A general condition in the proposed Nationwide permit program will designate coral reefs as a "critical resource water." The critical resource designation may require individual permit evaluation for proposed activities that potentially impact coral reefs. The individual permit process would result in a detailed analysis of proposed projects, and could result in alternatives to impacting these fragile areas.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Achieving interagency agreement.
  • Budget estimate: Portion of an FTE.
  • Activity #2: EPA will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to develop regulatory guidance to reinforce the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines for activities that would impact Special Aquatic Sites, including coral reefs.

    Description: The Corps and EPA regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S., including coral reefs and wetlands. Coral reefs, wetlands, and other special aquatic sites are highlighted in the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines, which contain a presumption that less damaging practicable alternatives to impacting these sites exist. EPA will draft guidance to highlight coral reefs and facilitate implementation of this provision.

  • Proposed timeline: Draft guidance will be developed in FY99.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Formal guidance will be issued which reinforces the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines. This guidance would serve to clarify the thresholds necessary for determining impacts to coral reefs and to discourage their destruction.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Interagency agreement and coordination.
  • Budget estimate: Portion of an FTE.
  • Activity #3: EPA will target its wetlands restoration and conservation efforts (through its Wetland Development and Five Star Restoration grant programs) to encourage the restoration and protection of wetlands in watersheds that drain into coastal waters with coral reefs in an effort to improve water quality that may be affecting these reefs. The Department of the Interior will explore a similar targeted approach with its coastal programs, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will encourage restoration of wetlands through its Wetlands Reserve Program.

    Description: EPA provides grant money to states, tribes, local governments, and not-for-profit organizations to undertake wetlands/stream corridor restoration and conservation activities. The Wetland Development Grant program provides $15 million annually to eligible organizations for wetlands protection. The 5-Star Restoration program provides $500,000 annually to support community-based wetland and riparian restoration projects. These funds could be used to protect or restore wetlands in coastal areas which drain to coral reef communities in order to protect or improve the water quality of those areas. NRCS’ Wetlands Reserve Program provides funding for wetland restoration and payments for easements on eligible farmland on a voluntary basis through a periodic bid program.

  • Proposed Timeline: Grant guidance for EPA’s Wetland Development Grants program will be released in spring 1999. Proposals will be accepted in the Regions between October and December of 1999, with funding to start in early FY 2000. The next proposal cycle for the 5-Star Restoration Program will be in early FY 2000. NRCS’ Wetlands Reserve Program is provided during a periodic sign up process.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: EPA will give priority to competitive projects submitted to the Wetland Development Grants and 5-Star Restoration programs which improve water quality for coastal regions with coral reef resources. The grant guidance (published annually) for the Wetland Development Grants program will be changed to reflect this priority. Most likely, this will increase the number of applicants for projects which impact coral reef communities. The Wetlands Reserve Program will increase restoration of wetlands in coastal areas affecting reefs.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA Regions, states, tribes, local governments, inter-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations.
  • Potential Barriers to Successful Implementation: EPA will prioritize coastal/coral reef related projects for its grant programs, but that does not guarantee that communities with coral reef resources will submit relevant wetland projects. Both of these programs are competitive grant programs, and the overall portfolio is shaped by the types of proposals communities submit. The Wetlands Reserve Program acreage has a cap of 975,000 acres. The FY2000 budget proposed enrolling the remaining 199,000 acres within that authorization cap. This may limit participation.
  • Budget estimate: There are no new budget requirements for changing the guidelines and priorities. The total grant budget for these two programs is over $15 million.
  • Activity #4: Assess the success of recent coral reef mitigation projects in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

    Description: There are several coral reef mitigation projects underway in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to mitigate the impacts on reef ecosystems from Section 404 authorized activities. This activity would assess the success of mitigation activities and transfer the lessons learned from those efforts to other locations. While the first priority in issuing a Section 404 permit is to avoid impacts to coral reef ecosystems, in those cases where impacts are deemed unavoidable, it is important to be able to undertake effective mitigation efforts. This activity will collect data to help increase the likelihood of success in mitigation projects.

  • Proposed timeline: In FY99, study design and data gathering. Conclusions and final report would be produced in FY2000.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Final report and conclusions of the effectiveness study. The report would provide information which would guide future coral reef permit decisions.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, states and territories.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Financial resources to undertake the study.
  • Budget estimate: Portion of an FTE; $130,000 for contract support to complete the analysis/study.
  • Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
    Nutrients

    Activity #1: Encourage further establishment of boat pump-out facilities and No Discharge Zones (Management/information management and access)

  • Encourage states to apply for Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grants to construct sewage pump-out stations in areas close to coral reefs.
  • Educate states on the availability of No Discharge Zones under Clean Water Act Section 312 (education/outreach component).
  • Identify/develop state and local model ordinances to establish NDZs (standard-setting component).

    Description: Sewage discharges can contribute to nutrient overenrichment, which in turn can potentially affect coral reef ecosystems in a number of ways; e.g. eutrophication, algal blooms, decreased light penetration, etc. The provision of pump-out facilities, as provided under the Clean Vessel Act, and the establishment of No Discharge Zones, as provided under Section 312 of the Clean Water Act, in areas containing coral reefs can help reduce sewage discharges in reef ecosystems. Targeted information describing these programs needs to be made available to states and territories, boaters and marina operators in areas that contain coral reef resources.

  • Proposed timeline: Education/outreach materials; e.g. fact sheets, web page, etc. can be completed in FY99. Model state and/or local ordinances for establishing No Discharge Zones could be completed by mid-FY2000.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Information describing how states, communities, boaters and marinas can take advantage of grants to construct boat pumpout facilities and establish No Discharge Zones.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, states, territories.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: States interested in establishing No Discharge Zones must have adequate pumpout facilities in place first in order to handle sewage that would no longer be discharged.
  • Budget estimate: Approximately 25K to develop, print and distribute fact sheets on CVA grants and No Discharge Zones. No cost information is currently available for developing model ordinances. Note - under the Clean Vessel Act grant program, a total of $9,400,000 is available for States to construct pump-out and dump stations for boaters in FY 1999.
  • Activity #2: Further examine the extent to which vessel sewage discharges present a significant problem for coral reef ecosystems.

    Description: Currently, there is not adequate information available to determine the extent to which vessel sewage discharges are problematic for marine waters in general, and coral reef ecosystems in particular. This information is needed in order to determine whether or not additional activities are necessary to ensure protection of coral reef ecosystems from sewage discharges.

  • Proposed timeline: Unknown.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: An assessment of the extent to which sewage discharges impact coral reef ecosystems. This would be followed by an analysis of whether or not current regulations are protective enough of coral reefs, or if they need strengthening.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA lead/potential DOJ involvement.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Lack of information. In addition to information about the volume of sewage discharged, information regarding discharge locations, currents and mixing or flushing rates would be needed.
  • Budget estimate: Unknown.
  • Activity #3: Conduct modeling to identify areas where air deposition of nutrients and other pollutants may impact reef resources in South Florida.

    Description: Use the REMSAD model to determine deposition rates of nitrogen and other pollutants up to 200 km offshore of the continental U.S. Likely emission scenarios would reflect current status (e.g., 1996), and status after multiple control requirements take effect in the U.S. (e.g., 2010).

  • Proposed timeline: Model runs could be completed by summer 1999.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: The model would provide estimated annual deposition rates (e.g., kilograms/hectare/year) for nitrogen and other pollutants over reef areas up to 200 km offshore of southern Florida and watersheds influencing those reefs. They would be for the two air emission scenarios noted above. These model runs would account for deposition due to emissions from the U.S. only.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA (OW, OAR, Regions 4 and 6), NOAA, State of Florida.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Incomplete emissions inventory information.
  • Budget estimate: Approximately $50K.
  • Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
    Other Chemical and Biological Pollutants

    Activity #1: Explore opportunities to strengthen coral reef protection under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), which is the domestic legislation that implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). MARPOL is the primary international agreement aimed at preventing or reducing intentional and accidental discharges from ships into the marine environment.

    Description: MARPOL Annex I (oil discharges), Annex II (noxious liquid substances), and Annex V (garbage) are implemented in the U.S. by APPS. This activity would explore the feasibility of providing additional protection (either direct or indirect) to coral reef resources under these annexes. An example would be to require vessels to dispose of most APPS-regulated waste at shoreside reception facilities while in port. Currently, even though U.S. ports are required to have disposal facilities available, vessels are not required to use them and may dispose of some materials beyond the 3 mile limit.

  • Proposed timeline: Unknown.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Tighter requirements on the disposal of oil, noxious liquids and garbage from vessels in U.S. waters.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, Coast Guard, DOJ.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Enforcement of APPS is difficult due to the number of vessels on U.S. waters. The Coast Guard does not have the manpower or budget to ensure compliance. In addition, discharges incidental to the normal operation of ships are not covered by MARPOL and APPS.
  • Budget estimate: not available.
  • Activity #2: Consider the impacts of ballast water management on coral reefs when preparing regulations to implement the National Invasive Species Act.

    Description: The Coast Guard is developing regulations to implement the National Invasive Species Act of 1996. These draft regulations address ballast water management procedures to protect U.S. waters from the introduction of invasive species.

  • Proposed timeline: The draft regulations currently are undergoing public review and comment.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Regulations that take into consideration the potential impacts to coral reef ecosystems from ballast water exchange.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: Coast Guard lead, EPA
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation:
  • Budget estimate: Coast Guard staff time.
  • Activity #3: Under the Executive Order on Invasive Species, review activities that may impact invasive species, and determine whether or not those activities also impact coral reef ecosystems.

    Description: On February 3, 1999, President Clinton signed an Executive Order on Invasive Species. The E.O. directs all Federal agencies to identify their actions that may affect the status of invasive species; prevent the introduction of invasive species; detect and respond to introductions of invasive species; monitor invasive species populations; provide for restoration of native species; conduct research on invasive species; and promote public education on invasive species. During the course of this review, Federal agencies should also determine the extent to which activities identified as affecting invasive species also impact coral reef ecosystems.

  • Proposed timeline: In accordance with the schedule contained in the Executive Order on Invasive Species for producing the Invasive Species Management Plan.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: An analysis of where there are overlapping issues and opportunities for action in the Executive Order on Invasive Species and the Executive Order on Coral Reef Protection. USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service Plant Materials Program will provide assistance with restoration of native plant species.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: all relevant Federal agencies.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation:
  • Budget estimate: staff time.
  • Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
    Education and Outreach Activities

    Activity #1: Launch RECON (Reef Ecosystem Condition) volunteer diver reef monitoring program in the Wider Caribbean, with future application in the Pacific.

    Description: The program will provide a large pool of certified volunteer divers who will be trained to conduct monitoring activities on coral reefs.

  • Proposed timeline: The program will be implemented over a 5 five year time period, beginning last year.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Pilot project in the Wider Caribbean.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, Center for Marine Conservation, and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Lack of consistent funding over the life of the program.
  • Budget estimate: $75K-$100K annually.
  • Activity #2: Implement the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program in Hawaii.

    Description: The National Marine Debris Monitoring Program is a statistically designed protocol that engages trained volunteer monitors to record information on the sources and amounts of marine debris found on U.S. shores. The data will be available to federal, State, and local level decision makers, as well as volunteers. Implementation of this program has been phased, with monitoring already occurring on the east, Gulf and west coasts of the continental U.S.

  • Proposed timeline: Summer/Fall 1999.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: National Marine Debris Monitoring Program established in Hawaii.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, Center for Marine Conservation.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Lack of consistent funding over the life of the program. There may also be some difficulty, in some areas, in locating enough monitoring sites that meet the protocol’s criteria.
  • Budget estimate: approximately $150K per year.
  • Water and Air Quality Working Group Draft Recommendations
    Implementation Tools

    Activity #1: Targeting Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 319 nonpoint source assistance under the Unified Watershed Assessment (UWA) process.

    Description: EPA has reviewed the Unified Watershed Assessments received from states and territories in 1998 and identified where coral reef resources are included in priority watersheds. This information has been made available to states and territories where reef resources are located so that they can try to target reefs in the Watershed Restoration Action Strategies they develop, and so that they can further highlight reef resources in the potential next round of UWAs. EPA will encourage states and territories to target Section 319 assistance and funding to projects that will help improve the health of coral reef ecosystems.

  • Proposed timeline: Watershed Restoration Action Strategies are already being developed. There is no timeline for a potential second round of UWAs.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Some portion of incremental 319 funding targeted to projects that will protect or improve the health of coral reef ecosystems.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, states and territories.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Ensuring that coral reef resources are identified as parts of priority watersheds under future rounds of Unified Watershed Assessments.
  • Budget estimate: None.
  • Activity #2: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) has flexibility to fund a wide array of water quality activities, including nonpoint source and stormwater controls, as well as upgrade and management of on-site wastewater systems. Explore the use of SRF funds for projects that would benefit coral reef ecosystems.

    Description: EPA is exploring the possibility of using CWSRF funds to fund coral reef projects. At this point, we are investigating whether there are any projects listed in CWA Section 319 and Section 320 plans that would reduce adverse impacts on coral reef ecosystems. If so, they are eligible to receive CWSRF funds.

  • Proposed timeline: Timeline will be developed if any projects are identified, and if states agree to fund the projects.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: States may develop funding criteria for reefs under their jurisdiction and potentially fund projects, and EPA would develop fact sheets documenting success.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA, States and territories.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Projects must be on CWA Section 319 and Section 320 plans to receive CWSRF funds.
  • Budget estimate: N/A
  • Activity #3: EPA has funds available through the National Capacity Development Project to demonstrate the successful elimination of barriers to the wider use of decentralized wastewater treatment.

    Description: EPA has issued a report to Congress titled, "Use of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems", which promotes onsite/decentralized systems as alternatives to centralized treatment and collection. In the FY 1998 and FY 1999 EPA appropriations for science and technology, EPA/ORD was assigned a total of $5 million to address barriers, identified in the report to Congress, to implementing these systems. In appropriating the funds, Congress identified a group of projects which will have first choice at the funding. Projects for the remaining funding will be competitively selected using criteria to be determined by the Water Environmental Research Foundation. One criteria will involve a centralized management function to operate and maintain systems.

    Other potential sources of funding include the nonpoint source grant program, the State Revolving Fund program (if the project is identified in a State’s nonpoint source management program), and water quality grants awarded under section 104(b)(3) of the CWA.

  • Proposed timeline: Approximate schedule for developing criteria and awarding grants is 3 to 5 years.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: N/A
  • Participants/Possible Partners: EPA and Water Environmental Research Foundation
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Congress has already identified most of the projects to be funded, so EPA has little control over use of the funds.
  • Budget estimate: Unknown at this time.
  • Activity # 4: USDA, in conjunction with private landowners, Tribes, local, State and Federal agencies, and other partners will continue to identify high priority watersheds that have potential impacts on coral reefs by nonpoint source runoff. USDA will provide technical, financial and educational assistance to private landowners in identified high priority watersheds for the implementation of best management practices to reduce or mitigate off-site impacts from nonpoint source pollution to coral reefs.

    Description: Technical and financial assistance is available to eligible landowners to reduce nonpoint source pollution, improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Assistance is usually provided by developing a conservation plan. Landowners receive cost-sharing for various conservation practices that are implemented. Contracts to complete the plan usually last 5 to 10 years.

  • Proposed Timeline: Assistance can be provided as priority watersheds are identified.
  • Deliverables/Impacts/Outcomes: Nonpoint source pollution degrading coral reefs will be reduced, wildlife habitat will be increased, soil and water quality will improve.
  • Participants/Possible Partners: Private landowners, local communities and organizations, soil and water conservation districts, state agencies, resource conservation and development councils, and other federal agencies.
  • Potential barriers to successful implementation: Lack of adequate funding and technical assistance to meet objectives.