National Coastal Condition Report II
This report is the second in a series and describes the ecological and environmental conditions in U.S. coastal waters. It summarizes the condition of ecological resources in the estuaries of the United States and highlights several exemplary Federal, State, Tribal, and local programs that assess coastal ecological and water quality conditions. Like the first Report released in 2001, this report rates the overall condition of U.S. coastal waters as fair to poor, varying from region to region. It represents a coordinated effort among EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and coastal States. This year's Report is based on data collected from a variety of Federal, State, and local sources, most notably EPA's National Coastal Assessment Program. These data sets include over 50,000 samples taken from 1997 to 2000 at over 1,500 randomly selected sites in all continental U.S. seacoasts and Puerto Rico. The resulting ecological assessment of the nation's estuaries shows estuaries to be in fair condition, varying from poor conditions in the Northeast and Puerto Rico to fair conditions in the Southeast, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and West Coast. Changes from the Last Report: The number of indicators was reduced from 7 in the first Report to 5 in the current . The eutrophication index (based upon NOAA's study in the first Report) was replaced by a water quality index including dissolved oxygen and water clarity, both of which were distinct indicators in the first Report. The other indicators -- benthic health, fish tissue contaminants, sediment quality and habitat (coastal wetlands loss) -- continue to be reported, although some of these indicators were modified to include additional data sets and comparisons to regional and sub-regional reference conditions.