Water: National Coastal Condition Report
Summary of Findings: 2001 National Coastal Condition Report
Coastal Research and Monitoring Strategy (PDF, 1.1MB, 70 pages)About PDF files
Summary of the Findings from the Executive Summary (2001)
Thousands of pieces of information on the condition of the estuarine and Great Lakes resources of the United States were collected from 1990 to 1997. Many of these data were analyzed to develop the assessment described in this report. Statistically and ecologically consistent and representative data were collected representing all of the estuarine resources in the Northeast, Southeast, and Gulf of Mexico, and data representing selected locations were collected throughout the remainder of the country. The resulting ecological assessment of the nation’s estuaries using these mixed data sets shows estuaries to be in fair to poor condition, varying from poor conditions in the Northeast to fair conditions in the Southeast. No overall assessments were completed for Alaska, Hawaii, or the island territories. New ecological monitoring programs, both proposed and in place, will permit a comprehensive and consistent overall assessment of all the nation’s coastal resources by 2005.
The major findings of the 1990 to 1997 study period are as follows:
- Overall condition of the nations estuaries was fair based on seven basic indicators of ecological condition—water clarity, dissolved oxygen, loss of coastal wetlands, eutrophic condition, sediment contamination, benthic condition, and accumulation of contaminants in fish tissue.
- Fifty-six percent of assessed estuarine resources were in good condition while 44% were characterized by impaired human use or impaired aquatic life use.
- Generally, the nations coastal areas were rated as poor if the mean conditions for these seven indicators showed that greater than 20% of the estuarine area in that region was degraded.
- Indicators that showed the poorest condition throughout the United States were coastal wetland loss, eutrophic condition, and benthic condition. Indicators that showed the best condition generally were water clarity and dissolved oxygen concentrations.
- These areal estimates represent over 70% of the estuarine area of the conterminous United States (all areas except New England and the West Coast). Consistent and comprehensive surveys are currently being conducted throughout all coastal states (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico), and the results of these surveys will be available in 2004. Consistent and comprehensive surveys of the nations offshore waters (0-12 miles) are being planned for 2002, and the results will be available (assuming survey completion) in 2005.