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Sediment Quality Assessment and Management: Insight and Progress Edited by M. Munawar© 2003 Ecovision World Monograph Series Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society Contaminated sediment in the Buffalo River area of concern– historical trends and current conditions K.N. Irvine1*, K.M. Frothingham1, M.C. Rossi2, S. Pickard3, J. Atkinson4, T. Bajak4 1Department of Geography/Planning and Great Lakes Center, State University of New York, College at Buffalo, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222, U.S.A. * 2Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, 95 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202, U.S.A. 3U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, 1776 Niagara St., Buffalo, NY 14207, U.S.A. 4Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering and Great Lakes Program, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, U.S.A. Keywords: Great lakes area of concern, contaminants, aquatic organisms, sediment quality, water quality Introduction The Great Lakes is the largest freshwater lake system in the world and an invaluable natural resource, but impairment of its water quality has been documented since the 1800s (IJC, 1987; Rossi, 1995). Most recently, management and remediation initiatives for the lakes have been focused through programs such as Remedial Action Plan (RAP) development for Areas of Concern (AOCs) and Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs). Areas of Concern are designated by the IJC because they fail to meet the general or specific objectives of the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and as such, exhibit some type of beneficial use impairment. Beneficial use impairments may include restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, fish tumors or other deformities, eutrophication, beach closings, or restrictions on 82 dredging activities, amongst others (IJC, 1987). Under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a RAP must be developed for each AOC. In brief, the RAP process identifies: the environmental impairments of an AOC; the potential sources of the impairments; approaches for remediation of the impairments; lead agencies responsible for remediation; and a timeline for remediation. The RAPs have identified contaminated sediment as a problem at the majority of AOCs. In the United States, several of these AOCs also are federally-designated navigable channels and the contaminated sediment has hampered the ability of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to maintain adequate depths for navigation. Annex 14 of the 1987 Protocol to the U.S.Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement called for an identification of the nature and extent of the sediment pollution of the Great Lakes system (U.S. EPA, 1994). The ARCS (Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediment) Program was implemented under the auspice of the U.S. EPA to conduct a five year study and initiate a series of demonstration projects relating to the control and removal of toxic compounds from bottom sediments in the Great Lakes (U.S. EPA, 1994). It was intended that this program would provide information and tools for RAPs, in particular, to help identify options for contaminated sediment remediation. The Buffalo River, NY, was identified as one of five demonstration sites for the ARCS program. Various ARCS-sponsored projects were conducted in the Buffalo River AOC, including a mass balance study (Atkinson et al., 1994; DePinto et al., 1995; Pratt et al., 1995), bed sediment sampling (SAIC, 1996), physical habitat and aquatic organism survey (Singer et al., 1995); and baseline risk assessments for both human health (Crane, 1993) and aquatic organisms (Passino-Reader et al., 1995). The ARCS studies provided extensive documentation of the recent condition of the Buffalo River, but they also utilized and were guided by previous studies on water and sediment quality (e.g. Symons, 1940; 1946; Hall, 1955; Parsons et al., 1963; Sweeney, 1970; Sargent, 1975; Black et al., 1980; Meredith and Rumer, 1987; Raggio et al., 1988; USACE, 1988; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), 1989; Aqua Tech, 1989a,b). The Buffalo River AOC is a highly urbanized ecosystem that has experienced over a century of industrial and municipal impacts and port activities. In recent decades, industry has declined along the river and the city of Buffalo has ambitious redevelopment plans for the waterfront, including increased waterway access and recreational use. It is essential to consider the environmental conditions associated with the river as remediation and redevelopment plans are drafted. Contaminated sediment is an important issue for the Buffalo River AOC and the broad objective of this paper therefore is to document changes in the 83 Buffalo River ecosystem as they pertain to temporal trends in...


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