As part of the county's ongoing response to the "brown tide" problem, the Brown Tide Comprehensive Assessment and Management Program (BTCAMP) was initiated in 1988. The program's objectives were not only to research the causes and impacts of the brown tide, but to investigate more conventional water quality problems affecting local embayments so that corrective actions to minimize them could be identified and evaluated. The BTCAMP study concentrated on the Peconic Estuary System, although other marine waters where the brown tide had occurred, including Shinnecock Bay, Moriches Bay, and Great South Bay, were also occasionally examined.
The final management plan was supported by a comprehensive series of tasks including monitoring of the bays, assessment of the sources of pollutant loading to the bays (e.g., stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plants, groundwater inflow), analysis of land use in the area surrounding the bays, and computer modeling of water movement and quality in the bays.
What were some of the findings of the BTCAMP study?
Briefly, BTCAMP found that although all algal growth requires nitrogen and phosphorus macronutrients, the brown tide is apparently not triggered specifically by them. The study suggested that the brown tide may have been caused by other factors including meteorological patterns and specific chemicals (organic nutrients, chelators, and certain metals), and recommended further laboratory and field research in these areas in addition to investigating factors related to brown tide subsidence (viruses, zooplankton grazing) and brown tide impacts on shellfish.
Are any reports or water quality data available for downloading?
To access the BTCAMP summary document, or to download water quality monitoring data, contact the department.
BTCAMP Summary Document