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Virginia CZM Program: 2006 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Project Title:

Mercury Monitoring in Dragon Run/Piankatank River Airshed

Project Description as Proposed:

The Department of Environmental Quality (Air and Water Quality Divisions), Virginia Institute of Marine Science, CBNERRs, and several NOAA offices are pooling resources and expertise to implement a comprehensive mercury monitoring and evaluation program in the Dragon Run watershed and airshed. This major effort includes both air deposition and water monitoring to determine the sources, movement and effects of mercury in the watershed. This monitoring effort supports the data gathering and monitoring goals of the Dragon Run SAMP. Many funding sources are supporting this effort.  

This request is to support the lab analysis costs of air samples at the Mercury Deposition Network (MDN) station at Harcum, VA. for the first six months of calendar year 2007.  The recipient of the funds will be the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champlain, IL, on behalf of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) Mercury Deposition Network, through the Illinois State Water Survey, which coordinates the national MDN.  This grant request will specifically fund 27 weekly total mercury samples in rainfall ($4563), 7 monthly composite methyl mercury samples in rainfall ($1050), and annual MDN coordination office costs ($1387).  The total request is for $7000.  Separate from this request, the DEQ Piedmont Regional Office is performing ambient stream sampling at 13 locations in the Dragon Run watershed for total mercury.

The results will hopefully tell us how much of the mercury is from air deposition, which can then be compared to the water samples being collected by the Piedmont Regional Office.  This information will be key in providing data for the TMDL which will ultimately be developed (year not scheduled yet), and influence the implementation plan and ultimate implementation of BMPs (perhaps on a regional or national basis).

Federal Funding:


Project Status:

1/1/2007 - 12/31/2007; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Mercury Monitoring in the Dragon Run/Piankatank Airshed December 2004 to June 2007 Final Report (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

In response to concerns relating to the 2003 Virginia Department of Health (VDH) fish consumption advisory for mercury (Hg) in the Dragon Run/Dragon Swamp/Piankatank River watershed, the Piedmont Regional Office of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) entered into a collaborative effort with Dr. William Reay of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the DEQ Coastal Zone Management Program to establish and maintain a National Atmospheric Mercury Deposition Network (MDN) station to monitor weekly inputs and loadings of Hg into the watershed.  The station was constructed on Dr. Reay’s property in Harcum, VA and he maintained it and performed the weekly monitoring tasks.  This summary report covers from December 2004 through June 2007.  This project is the continuation of  NOAA Grant #NA05NOS4191180.

Dr. Reay collected one hundred-four (104) weekly samples of rainfall deposition Hg concentration at the Harcum station during this study.  There were 26 other weeks in the period where there was no precipitation to sample.  An MDN laboratory in Illinois analyzed the samples for total Hg.  The mean Hg concentration at Harcum, VA for the period was 9.99 ng/l (SD=10.19 ng/l) and the mean deposition load combining rainfall with Hg concentration was 182 ng/m2 (SD=208 ng/m2).  The concentrations and loads varied widely from a minimum concentration of 0.92 ng/l and load of 3.91 ng/m2 to a maximum concentration of 88.6 ng/l and load of 1697 ng/m2.  There appeared to be a pattern of seasonality in the Harcum data.  Monthly totals generally showed highest deposition loads in the summer and lowest in the winter. This pattern also appeared in the other two station datasets from Virginia, located in Culpeper, VA and the Shenandoah National Park.  Harcum data was also compared with data from stations in Acadia National Park in Maine and Everglades National Park in Florida.  The lowest Hg concentrations and loads generally appeared in the upper Northeastern USA as evidenced by mean Hg at Acadia, ME of 6.8 ng/l.  Mid-Atlantic concentrations and loads were mid-range as shown by Harcum at 9.1 ng/l, and far Southeastern USA concentrations and loads were greatest, reflected by the Everglades at 14.1 ng/l.     

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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