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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

EMAP Western Pilot

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Western EMAP

Coastal Waters

The EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) Western Pilot is a multi-year effort led by EPA's Office of Research and Development to advance the science of ecosystem health monitoring and to demonstrate the application of EMAP monitoring and assessment tools. It is intended to demonstrate the value of survey-based monitoring by applying these techniques to problems of Regional and State interest. The overall objective of the coastal portion of the EMAP Western Pilot is to create an integrated comprehensive coastal monitoring program along the West Coast to assess estuarine condition.

Coastal indicators

Estuarine conditions are typically assessed through the use of biological indicators such as benthic community structure, fish community analysis, and the incidence of disease or other pathologies in fish. The presence of stressors is evaluated by assessing water quality parameters, sediment contamination and toxicity, and the presence of contaminants in fish tissue. The core EMAP coastal indicators are listed below.

Water Column Sediments Fish and Invertebrate Trawls
Dissolved oxygen, pH
Salinity, temperature, depth
Grain size
Total organic carbon
Sediment chemistry
Benthic community structure
Sediment toxicity
Community structure
External pathology
Tissue analyses


The first year's effort (1999) involved the small estuarine systems in the States of California, Oregon and Washington. In 2000, Coastal EMAP focused on the large estuarine systems such as San Francisco Bay, the Columbia River and Puget Sound. In 2001, monitoring efforts were directed to the estuaries of Alaska and Hawaii. In 2002, EMAP embarked on a series of wetland pilot projects to explore and evaluate wetland indicators. In 2003, coastal EMAP sampled the offshore areas of the five Pacific Coast States (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii). In 2004, EMAP coastal focus returned to estuarine monitoring to support the National Coastal Condition Assessment. In 2004, EMAP-style sampling was also performed as part of the National Coastal Condition Assessment was extended to two of the outer islands in Region 9, Guam and American Samoa. Plans are underway for additional estuarine sampling on the west coast in 2005.

In California, EMAP and EPA Region 9 are working with a consortium of agencies involved in the development of California's coastal monitoring strategy. These include the State Water Resources Control Board, six coastal Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Exiting EPA (disclaimer), the San Francisco Estuary Institute Exiting EPA (disclaimer) and the California Department of Fish and Game Exiting EPA (disclaimer).

One of the goals of the project is to assist the State of California in the implementation of their statewide coastal monitoring strategy by dealing with issues of statewide data comparability and information management.

In Hawaii, EMAP and Region 9 are working with the City and County of Honolulu and the University of Hawaii (SOEST) to provide a state-wide assessment of condition. Intensive sampling was also performed to provide an assessment of Mamala Bay. Efforts in American Samoa were coordinated through the National Park Service.

Year Resource State
1999 Small Estuaries California, Oregon, Washington
2000 Large Estuaries California, Oregon, Washington
2001 Estuaries Alaska, Hawaii
2002 Intertidal and Wetland Pilots California, Oregon, Washington
2003 Offshore California, Oregon, Washington
2004 Estuaries California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii
2005 Estuaries California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii


Further information

Terry Fleming (fleming.terrence@epa.gov)
(415) 972-3462

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