Representative Projects Overview

Water Quality Improvement through Constructed Wetlands

In partnership with CSUMB and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the CCWaterʼs Central Coast Wetlands Group installed over 600 native plants in a constructed wetland near the confluence of the Tembladero Slough and Old Salinas River Channel. Analyses done by CCWG, Cal State Monterey Bay, and the CCWaterʼs Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory demonstrated that the wetland produced substantial reductions in pathogens, nutrients, suspended sediment, pesticides, and toxicity in water containing urban and agricultural runoff.


The Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) is the umbrella program for all surface water quality monitoring conducted by the California State and Regional Water Boards. Scientists from the Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory (MPSL) of the Central Coast Water Resources Center act as general contractors to coordinate the activities of dozens of SWAMP laboratories, conduct chemical and toxicological analyses for the program, and operate the Regional Data Center that processes and verifies the quality of data from SWAMP and other programs before facilitating delivery to the statewide CEDEN data base.

Pollution Assessment

The CCWaterʼs Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory (MPSL) has conducted over 100 monitoring and research projects related to the assessment and remediation of chemical pollution and invasive species. Past and current project partners include local governments and districts, national research organizations, State and Regional Water Boards, and federal agency programs such as NOAA Status and Trends and the EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. MPSL has extensive field sampling and analytical capabilities, and MPSL scientists have measured, monitored, and assessed the effects of trace metals, industrial compounds, pesticides, urban stormwater and agricultural runoff in water, sediment, and biota from streams, estuaries and the coastal ocean. Results of this work have been published in approximately 75 scientific journal articles and dozens of agency reports, and this information has influenced resource management decisions at local, regional, state and national levels.

Wetland Restoration and Evaluation

Ecologists from the CCWaterʼs Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG) conducted State Water Board-funded comprehensive assessments of wetland restoration projects throughout the central coast to evaluate the level of restoration goal attainment. This involved: (1) developing a spatial data base of 256 wetland restoration sites; (2) applying the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) to evaluate the general condition of 96 randomly selected projects; and (3) collecting a suite of lab and field measurements at each of the 96 sites to document each projectʼs performance toward water quality enhancement.

Benthic Community Baselines

CCWaterʼs Benthic Laboratory established or helped established numerous quantitative baselines describing benthic invertebrate communities and habitats along the continental shelf in the CA upwelling system, in Elkhorn Slough, San Francisco Bay and other coastal embayments, and in Antarctica and the deep sea. Benthic communities, particularly those in soft sediments (which act as a sink for pollutants), provide some of the best community data indicating ecosystem change. The baseline sites can be resampled in the future to evaluate impacts ranging from human activities to decadal climate cycles.