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San Francisco Bay Estuary Priority Ecosystem Study

Inside the pilothouse of the USGS Research Vessel Polaris
Inside the pilothouse of the USGS Polaris Research Vessel. The USGS water-quality measurement program in San Francisco Bay began in 1968. As the focus and objectives of the USGS programs of study in San Francisco Bay change from year to year, so do the sampling frequencies.
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Diverse organic and inorganic contaminants that vary widely in their environmental behavior, sources, and toxicity enter the San Francisco Bay estuary. Toxic substances enter the estuary in agricultural and urban runoff and in discharges from municipal wastewater facilities and industries. The study focuses on the movement, fate, and effect of contaminants from a variety of agricultural, industrial, and urban sources, such as pesticides and toxic trace elements, and on the effects of the highly varying hydrologic conditions in river--estuarine environments. Scientists are developing an approach to characterize the distribution of contamination and the resulting ecological effects that will be applied in similar environments elsewhere.

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