Responses of Benthic Macrofauna to Phaseout of Sewage Sludge Disposal in the Inner New York Bight

by R. N. Reid, Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric, Administration, Highlands, United States,
S. A. Fromm, Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric, Administration, Highlands, United States,
A. B. Frame, Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric, Administration, Highlands, United States,
D. Jeffress, Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric, Administration, Highlands, United States,
J. J. Vitaliano, Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric, Administration, Highlands, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91

Abstract: From 1924 through 1987, sewage sludge was dumped at the '12 mile site' 22 km off northern New Jersey in the inner New York Bight. Inputs in the early 1980s were, at the time, the largest ever to any oceanic sludge dumpsite. The dumping increased sediment carbon and contaminant concentrations and altered assemblages of bottom-living invertebrates, especially in deeper waters west of the dumpsite. However, cause-effect relationships were unclear, partly because the area has also received carbon and contaminant inputs from other sources, primarily a dredged material dumpsite and the Hudson-Raritan estuary. The phaseout of sludge dumping between March 1986 and December 1987 provided an opportunity to clarify past fates and effects of the sludge, by studying responses of habitats and biota to removal of the input, and to add to the limited information available on sequences and rates of recovery of former dumpsites. As part of a multidisciplinary study, triplicate samples for benthic macrofauna and numerous sediment variables were taken monthly from July 1986 through September 1989 at three inner Bight stations with similar depths and sediment types, chosen to represent 1) greatest apparent sludge influence, 2) little or no influence, and 3) intermediate influence. Preliminary results indicate limited responses of the benthic macrofauna to phaseout (e. g., numbers of species increased, but the overall faunal assemblage remained highly altered). The presentation will include analysis of the complete data set and also highlights of other aspects of the overall study, such as sediment contamination, bottom water conditions, and fish and shellfish abundance and pathology.

Subject Headings: Sludge | Sewage | Water pollution | Aquatic habitats | Dredged materials | Carbon fibers | North America | United States | New York | New Jersey

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