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New N.C. ferry-linked water monitoring begins generating useful data for analysis

thered and tested," Ramus said. "We'll also be able to study daily, seasonal and yearly variations, cycles and trends and also compare those with effects of weather on algal productivity. All data will be archived in digital form for further analysis."

Goals include learning how excessive naturally produced nutrients and those resulting from agriculture, industry, municipalities and domestic sources affect the environment and providing information needed for long-term water quality management.

"The Neuse River ferry already has started to show its value in enabling us to get a very comprehensive, integrated view of the river," Paerl said. "That's important because events that occur there, like fish kills and low oxygen, may happen at sites across the estuary that may not be covered by routine monitoring at restricted locations. Trying to establish cause and effect relationships between changes in water quality and those events has been one of the more frustrating aspects of understanding how complex estuarine environments work." Ramus and Paerl consulted with colleagues in Finland, where a comparable monitoring system already is operating. The Finns encouraged the Americans, who began work on the N.C. version three years before last year's Hurricane Floyd, which prompted the state's financial support. Endeco/YSI of Marion, Mass., built the FerryMon equipment, which is the most sophisticated of its kind in the world, the scientists said.

"Hardly anything ever functions the first time you try it, but in this case, it started spitting out data as soon as we turned it on," Paerl said. "It will provide the first comprehensive view of water quality in Pamlico Sound, which is pretty amazing since it's the second largest estuary in the country."

A major advantage will be cost savings resulting from placing the equipment aboard the ferries, he said.

"When you look at the cost of doing oceanographic survey work for water quality, even if it's just in a l
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Contact: David Williamson
David_Williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
10-Dec-2000


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