By Lisa Owens Viani

If and when El Niño decides to dump a big storm on the Bay Area — even at 2:00 am on a Saturday night — SFEI’s Lester McKee and Alicia Gilbreath and their team are ready to pull on their parkas and dash out to take water samples.

Last September, stakeholders in the Regional Monitoring Program decided they would be remiss if they did not try to measure some high priority pollutants during an El Niño year. “With plenty of data for normal years, it was important to get data from a more extreme year,” says Phil Trowbridge, the RMP manager, adding that months of planning enabled them to focus on three things — mercury, PCBs and sediment — in three places — under the Golden Gate Bridge and the South Bay’s Dumbarton Bridge and at the mouth of the Guadalupe River.

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Waiting for the Big One

By Lisa Owens Viani

If and when El Niño decides to dump a big storm on the Bay Area — even at 2:00 am on a Saturday night — SFEI’s Lester McKee and Alicia Gilbreath and their team are ready to pull on their parkas and dash out to take water samples.

Last September, stakeholders in the Regional Monitoring Program decided they would be remiss if they did not try to measure some high priority pollutants during an El Niño year. “With plenty of data for normal years, it was important to get data from a more extreme year,” says Phil Trowbridge, the RMP manager, adding that months of planning enabled them to focus on three things — mercury, PCBs and sediment — in three places — under the Golden Gate Bridge and the South Bay’s Dumbarton Bridge and at the mouth of the Guadalupe River.

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About the author

Lisa Owens Viani is a freelance writer and editor specializing in environmental, science, land use, and design topics. She writes for several national magazines including Landscape Architecture Magazine, ICON and Architecture, and has written for Estuary for many years. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Raptors Are The Solution, www.raptorsarethesolution.org, which educates people about the role of birds of prey in the ecosystem and how rodenticides in the food web are affecting them.

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