Partners in Water Quality Efforts Tour Wakefield Park


June 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Partners in Water Quality Efforts Tour Wakefield Park

About 50 people from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), congressional staffers and the Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division (SWPD) gathered at Wakefield Park on June 1 and set off for an educational walking tour to learn about using USGS scientific information to make decisions about restoring and conserving the Chesapeake Watershed.

Scott Phillips, USGS Chesapeake Bay Coordinator, organized the full day field trip to see the Wakefield Park stream restorations and to alert attendees about the respective efforts that USGS, Fairfax County and EPA make to restore the Chesapeake Watershed.

"USGS organized the field trip because the topic is timely and we wanted congressional staffers and others to see the value of using USGS scientific information to make decisions about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed," said Scott Phillips, USGS, Chesapeake Bay Coordinator. "We wanted to focus on science and applications, and our partners' roles in Bay restoration."

Scott Phillips gave an overview of USGS efforts related to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and the importance and benefits of Chesapeake Watershed restoration. Ken Hyer, also of USGS, used the opportunity to demonstrate USGS science related to water quality and fish health and introduced participants to Accotink Creek as an example of an urban basin.

There were two stations set up in the park: the first was a fish health station; while the second was about water quality. Participants' visits to both stations served as the morning portion of the field trip. The first station was along the walking trail in the park while the second station was in the floodplain near a stream not far away.

At the fish station, Dr. Vickie Blazer, of USGS, and her two-person crew demonstrated the effects of toxic contaminates and disease on fish health. Dr. Blazer talked about the history of fish health problems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the potential link to toxic contaminants, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and other potential stressors. She highlighted the differences between urban and agricultural watersheds and how USGS partners with states to collect fish samples. Her two assistants dissected a fish while Dr. Blazer narrated the process and described other tools they use for fish studies (i.e., gene expression: "genes encode proteins and proteins dictate cell function. The thousands of genes expressed in a particular cell determine what that cell can do," according to Scitable by Nature Education).

The second station was about water quality trend results across the watershed. A water sampling demonstration was performed by Doug Moyer of the Virginia Water Science Center and Joel Blomquist of the Maryland Water Science Center, while they talked about continuous monitoring for innovation and publically available data. They also discussed loads and trends across the watershed with a focus on unbiased science.

Toward the end of the morning session, the group stood on a footbridge that spans a small, restored stream that leads to Accotink Creek. Dave Anglin, Project Manager II, Fairfax County, who oversaw the stream restorations in Wakefield Park, talked to the visitors about the 'before' and 'after' aspects of the stream restorations and showed laminated pictures that clearly demonstrated the need for improvements to enhance water quality.

As the group watched the water flow under the footbridge, Craig Carinci, P.E., Director, SWPD, highlighted the value of the partnership with USGS and talked about how the results of monitoring are used to validate the environmental impacts of land use and the projects that are being implemented in watersheds. "Ultimately, the information is used to develop cost effective strategies to enhance water quality," Craig said.

Partners in Water Quality Efforts Tour Wakefield Park
At the fish station, Dr. Vickie Blazer and her USGS assistants dissected a fish to demonstrate the history of fish health problems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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Contact: Irene Haske,
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-5821, TTY 711

 


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