Microplastics, Water Monitoring Highlighted at Upcoming Center for the Inland Bays Science Committee Meeting

Rehoboth Beach, Del. — The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays invites the public to learn about microplastics research and water quality reporting in the Inland Bays at an upcoming virtual Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, July 30.

STAC meetings are a fantastic opportunity for residents to learn about local environmental issues and ask questions about the latest research in the Inland Bays. This committee provides objective, science-driven advice and guidance to the Center’s Board of Directors and other cooperating agencies with interests in the Inland Bays.

David Wolanski, an environmental scientist with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and Bill Richardson with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will first discuss how water quality monitoring data are collected and reported in Delaware, and how that information is used to inform management decisions and regulations at both the state and federal level. In every even-numbered year, the state must report water quality conditions to the EPA, information that can then be used to guide water management programs.

“It’s very important that data used by the State to guide important management decisions accurately reflects the water quality conditions in the Bays and their tributaries,” said Dr. Walch. “At this meeting, we’ll be discussing how Center scientists and STAC members can best support DNREC with improved monitoring programs.”

Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Associate Professor at the University of Delaware, and laboratory technician Taylor Hoffman will present their findings from five years of studying microplastics in the Delaware Bay, tidal creeks and the Inland Bays. They’ll also provide insight into the ultimate fate of these tiny pollutants, and how they move in local waterways.

This image shows a mix of microplastics found in Delaware waterways. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jonathan Cohen.

“Delaware is proving to be an important case study for microplastics research in coastal environments,” Dr. Cohen said. “We have a mixture of rural and urban land use, which is helping to isolate pathways of debris into waterways. Once in the water, many questions remain as to how microplastics are transported through coastal systems and ultimately to the ocean, and how biota are affected. Work in Delaware is helping to resolve these.”

In addition, Kelly Somers, a scientist with EPA Region 3, will share insight on microplastics pollution and its potential for human health and environmental impacts. Studies in the Chesapeake Bay are helping scientists develop “ecological risk assessments” on the effects of microplastics. Those assessments are intended to help scientists uniformly classify and document impacts while developing a science-based strategy to address the problem.

The public and members of the media are encouraged to attend the Zoom meeting at https://udel.zoom.us/j/98410695414 and enter the passcode “science.” To join by phone, dial 646-876-9923 and enter the meeting ID “984 1069 5414.”

A draft agenda, as well as additional information about the committee and past meetings, can be found on the Center’s website at inlandbays.org/stac.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Learn more at inlandbays.org.