Framework for a water quality monitoring program for the Caribbean Netherlands

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The NEPP (Nature and Environment Policy Plan, 2020-2030) creates an integral framework for the management of the natural environment in the Caribbean Netherlands. Special attention is given to the protection and restoration of the coral reefs and to increase the resilience of these ecosystems against the impacts of climate change. The current environmental conditions for coral reefs are considered sub-optimal, and therefore the NEPP strategic goal nr.1 is: Reversing the trend of coral reef degradation to create healthy, resilient and restored coral reefs, ensuring well-being in the Caribbean Netherlands. To reach this goal investments will be made in the coming years to reduce the impact of local pressures with respect to erosion, run-off and discharge of untreated wastewater. In addition, a water quality monitoring program (WQ-monitoring program) will be developed to establish the actual water quality status in the coastal zone of the different islands and to be able to detect the effectiveness of measures to improve it. Rijkswaterstaat requested Wageningen Marine Research to develop a first framework for this WQ-monitoring program. This framework aims to: - Specify the objectives of a WQ-monitoring program in the light of the actual policy goals; - Identify relevant indicators of water quality that can be included in the monitoring program; - Propose options for a WQ-monitoring program with respect to frequency and spatial coverage; - Create an inventory of already present monitoring networks and analytical facilities and give a rough indication of the budgets involved. A first set-up of the framework was discussed in two online sessions in October/November 2020 with stakeholders, facilitated by Wageningen Marine Research. The framework presented in this report can guide in the designing of a basic governmental WQ-monitoring program and more dedicated research and development programs to answer specific questions on the islands. Two sampling strategies are described to monitor the surface coastal water quality, one comprehensive and one less intensive. The advantage of monitoring the coastal water is that the monitoring results can directly be related to the conditions at the coral reefs. However, due to water currents and dilution an intense (both spatial as in frequency) sampling program is required. But even then it may be difficult to link the monitoring results with specific pressures and to determine the effectiveness of policy measures. For this aim monitoring groundwater and run-off water quality is probably more efficient. The best option for a monitoring program therefore is to combine a yearly monitoring of ground water and run-off water and biological monitoring of for instance coverage of cyanobacterial mats, with a more or less intensive monitoring of the coastal water at a lower frequency, for instance every 3 years. The design of the actual monitoring program should be tailored for each island.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Helder
PublisherWageningen Marine Research
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Publication series

NameWageningen Marine Research report


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