The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) plan to obtain data on chemical contaminants in fish from multiple Areas of Concern (AOCs) in New York State and use this information to evaluate fish consumption advisories, which are a critical component of most removal criteria for “Restriction on Fish and Wildlife Consumption” beneficial use impairments (BUI). The first project in the Buffalo River AOC will help determine if current fish consumption advisories are appropriate, if they can be modified, and if they support or do not support BUI removal as recommended in the June 2014 “Buffalo River AOC: A Monitoring Plan for the Delisting of Impaired Beneficial Use Impairments” document prepared by the Buffalo River AOC Remedial Action Committee (RAC). Multiple assessments will be required to demonstrate decreasing contaminant residues (temporal trends) needed for the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to reevaluate fish-consumption advisories in this AOC. Depending on funding levels, comparable work may follow in the Niagara River (2018), Eighteenmile Creek (2019+), and St. Lawrence River at Massena NY (2019+) AOCs.
Fish for contaminant analysis will be collected from each of the four sample zones in the Buffalo River AOC during June, 2017 by the USGS and NYSDEC using electrofishing boats that apply pulsed direct current at a frequency of 60 Hz. The four zones include: (A) Buffalo City Ship Canal south of Michigan Street Bridge, (B) Buffalo River from Michigan Street bridge to Ohio Street, (C) Buffalo River from bend 1/4 mile east of Katherine St. to Babcock St., and (D) Buffalo River from Babcock Street to US Rt. 62 (Bailey Ave). At each zone, both boats will operate at the same time to obtain approximately 10 individuals from each of 4 species/groups for a total of 40 fish per zone. Targeted species/groups are: (1) common carp, (2) brown bullhead/channel catfish/yellow perch/pumpkinseed, (3) largemouth bass, and (4) bluntnose minnow. All fish will be identified and their lengths and weights will be recorded. Standard (NYSDEC) filets will be collected from all fish that are large enough to obtain filets that weigh at least 50 grams. Small individuals (e.g., minnow) will be pooled and moderate sized individuals (e.g., sunfish or perch) may have their head and viscera removed to obtain samples with a total weight of at least 50 g. Samples will weighed and frozen (and maintained) on dry ice, then transported to a freezer for short-term storage. All samples will be shipped to the laboratory, where tissues will be homogenized and individual aliquots prepared. Most samples will be analyzed for percent water, percent lipids, PCBs, pesticides, PAHs, mercury, lead, and cadmium. Electronic data will be returned to the USGS, uploaded into the National Water Information System (NWIS), undergo a validation and approval process, made available to the public, and summarized in a USGS Data Release Report or journal article.