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Keywords:

  • Copper;
  • Chesapeake Bay;
  • Site-specific criteria;
  • Mytilus

Abstract

The object of this study was to estimate site- and region-specific dissolved copper criteria for a large embayment, the Chesapeake Bay, USA. The intent is to show the utility of 2 copper saltwater quality site-specific criteria estimation models and associated region-specific criteria selection methods. The criteria estimation models and selection methods are simple, efficient, and cost-effective tools for resource managers. The methods are proposed as potential substitutes for the US Environmental Protection Agency's water effect ratio methods. Dissolved organic carbon data and the copper criteria models were used to produce probability-based estimates of site-specific copper saltwater quality criteria. Site- and date-specific criteria estimations were made for 88 sites (n = 5,296) in the Chesapeake Bay. The average and range of estimated site-specific chronic dissolved copper criteria for the Chesapeake Bay were 7.5 and 5.3 to 16.9 μg Cu/L. The average and range of estimated site-specific acute dissolved copper criteria for the Chesapeake Bay were 11.7 and 8.3 to 26.4 μg Cu/L. The results suggest that applicable national and state copper criteria can increase in much of the Chesapeake Bay and remain protective. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality copper criteria near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, however, need to decrease to protect species of equal or greater sensitivity to that of the marine mussel, Mytilus sp.