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Ferry-linked water monitoring system becomes new model for United States

CHAPEL HILL University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University marine scientists who began monitoring surface water quality in the Neuse River in 2000 say their expanded effort has become a model for continuous ferry-based water assays throughout the nation.

Help and support from the N.C. Department of Transportation's Division of Ferries and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) deserves much of the credit, the researchers say.

Drs. Hans Paerl and Joseph S. Ramus, professors at the UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke marine laboratories in Morehead City and Beaufort, respectively, and project co-directors, added water quality monitoring to the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferries in 2001. Their automated project, called FerryMon, keeps watch over and helps protect the unique Pamlico Sound.

Since then, marine scientists in Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and New York and as far away as San Francisco Bay and Washington's Puget Sound have begun designing, and in some cases already using, comparable systems, said Paerl, William R. Kenan professor at UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences.

"This effort, which we see as vital, has been working flawlessly, and we can't say enough about how helpful the people with the N.C. DOT's ferry division and DENR have been," Paerl said. "The monitoring has been especially helpful in keeping state policymakers and scientists informed about what has happened in Pamlico Sound following the recent increase in hurricanes."

Hurricanes Floyd, Dennis and Irene in 1999 stimulated the state's interest in supporting the research, although Ramus and he began planning the system three years before that, Paerl said. Critical to understanding the state's coastal ecology is reliable information about human-related changes in water quality, the impact of nutrients flowing into eastern waters, development, pollution, sedimentation and pressures on the shellfish and fin fish indus
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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
18-Jul-2005


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