Scientists and managers discuss nitrogen in NY Bight
New York Coastlines, Fall 2010

The New York Bight ranges from Cape Cod, MA, to Cape May, NJ and includes New York Harbor and a large number of estuaries. Each of these water bodies is unique; collectively, they make the region America’s “urban sea.” Over the last 50 years the Bight region has experienced varying degrees of negative impacts from anthropogenic nitrogen loading from sewage treatment plants, stormwater runoff, groundwater input, and atmospheric nitrogen. While many nitrogen controls are in place, improvements have been limited and many additional controls would require major investments.

In a two-day workshop held in Manhattan in July 2010, scientists and managers discussed the issues surrounding nitrogen and nitrogen controls in the New York Bight and its associated estuaries. The workshop was planned by the New York Bight Regional Ocean Science Council which is charged with developing a research plan that coordinates and integrates regional research activities within the New York Bight. The workshop was led by Jim Ammerman, New York Sea Grant Director and chair of the workshop committee.

Said Ammerman, “Scientists need to know if they are providing the right information to managers of our coastal resources. By structuring our meeting with both scientific and management presentations as well as breakout group discussions, the managers in attendance were able to form new partnerships with the scientists.”

There were 15 presentations and two breakout sessions, the first session limited to scientists or managers, and second a combination of the two groups of attendees. Many presenters gave overviews of the major scientific or management concerns of particular estuaries, including the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary, the Long Island South Shore Estuaries, the Peconic Estuary, Long Island Sound, and others. Most presentations focused on nitrogen inputs and impacts for each estuary, as well as current and potential future management options for some of them. One speaker presented new developments in our understanding of the nitrogen cycle and another, a novel engineering approach to ammonium removal that will be implemented in Jamaica Bay.

The workshop results and report will be incorporated into the planning process of the New York Bight Regional Ocean Science Council as it develops plans for ecosystem-based management in this region.

—Barbara A. Branca

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