Did 20th century efforts to clean up the Potomac River improve its estuarine habitats and restore key biological communities?

A team of scientists and managers familiar with the estuary attempted to answer this question in the Tidal “Potomac Integrative Analysis” project, or PIA. The team gathered, analyzed, and synthesized information from long-term monitoring data sets on weather, freshwater flow, pollutant loads, water quality, and key biological communities in the estuary. They were able to empirically quantify how anthropogenic changes in nutrient loadings to the Potomac have –- and have not - altered water quality and changed key biological communities.

The project was supported with funds or in-kind matches from the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, George Mason University, the U. S. Geological Survey, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. A draft report was produced by ICPRB in August 1999 (ICPRB Report 99-4) and submitted to the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Shad fishing at Stony Point, ICPRB photo collection

The entire report can be referenced as follows:

Buchanan, C. (editor). 1999. Tidal Potomac Integrative Analysis Project: A Series of Reports on the Water Quality and Living Resources Responses to Management Actions to Reduce Nutrients in the Potomac River Estuary. Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Report 99-4.

A series of reports completed in 1999 was one product of the collaborative, interdisciplinary Tidal Potomac Integrative Analysis Project (see sidebar). Since then, three sections of the document have been updated and one section, Appendix B, has evolved into a separate treatise. Each section is available below and downloadable as a *.PDF file. Some sections are searchable; others are fixed images and the text cannot be searched.

The Synthesis provides an historical perspective of anthropogenic impacts to the estuary. It then integrates the findings of the other sections and presents conclusions and recommendations.
Front Cover [PDF, 102 KB]
Executive Summary [PDF, 330 KB] Updated in 2000
A Synthesis of the Project Results [PDF, 29.8 MB]
by Claire Buchanan, William D. Romano and Richard V. Lacouture

Water Quality Section of the Potomac Integrated Analysis Project Appendix A [PDF, 61.9 MB] Updated in 2000 Note that this is a very large document.
by William D. Romano, Bruce D. Michael, and Robert E. Magnien

A Historical Analysis of the Eutrophication of the Potomac Estuary Appendix B [PDF, 1.9 MB]
by Norbert A. Jaworski and William D. Romano
River Flow and Nutrient Load Characteristics, Water Quality Conditions in the Lower Potomac (MLE2.2), Sediment-Water Fluxes in the Potomac Estuary Appendix C [PDF, 30.2 MB]
by Walter R. Boynton
Long-term Trends in Summer Phytoplankton Chlorophyll a in the Tidal Freshwater Potomac River, USA: Relationship to Climate and Management Factors Appendix D [PDF, 410 KB]
by R. Christian Jones
Chesapeake Bay Habitat Criteria Scores and the Distribution of Submersed Aquatic Vegetation in the Tidal Potomac River and Potomac Estuary, 1983-1997 Appendix E [PDF, 761 KB]
by Jurate M. Landwehr, Justin T. Reel, Nancy B. Rybicki, Henry A. Ruhl, and Virginia Carter

Linkages Among Submersed Aquatic Vegetation, Nutrients, River Discharge, and Weather in the Tidal Potomac River and Estuary [PDF, 1.6] Updated in 2000
by Virginia Carter, Jurate M. Landwehr, Nancy B. Rybicki, Justin T. Reel, and Henry A. Ruhl

Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Monitoring Program 1995 Mesozooplankton Component Appendix F [PDF, 290 KB]
by Fred Jacobs and William Burton
Versar Final Report for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Tidewater Assessments - Potomac Trends Appendix G [PDF, 453 KB]
by J. Ananda Ranasingha