Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Karen Worcester
    Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Start Date: January 01, 1998

The Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program (CCAMP) is the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's regionally scaled water quality monitoring and assessment program. The purpose of the program is to provide scientific information to Regional Board staff and the public, to protect, restore, and enhance the quality of the waters of central California. Monitoring activities include watershed monitoring on a five-year rotational cycle, ongoing Coastal Confluences monitoring of river mouths, and several nearshore monitoring projects. CCAMP collaborates extensively with other agencies, university researchers, and other volunteer and professional monitoring organizations.

Summary to Date

CCAMP has collected five years of monitoring data throughout the Central Coast Region, which extends from southern San Mateo to northern Ventura County. Each major watershed area is monitored intensively over a year period on a five-year rotational basis. During the year of monitoring, data collection includes monthly sampling for nutrients, physical parameters, salts, and other conventional constituents. Other sampling, including sediment chemistry and toxicity, water toxicity, rapid bioassessment of benthic invertebrate communities, and tissue bioaccumulation, is conducted one or more times during the assessment year at a subset of sites.

Coastal confluences monitoring has included ongoing monthly monitoring for conventional chemistry and annual bioassessment at the mouths of thirty rivers and streams just above saltwater influence. Nearshore monitoring activities include pilot monitoring of sand crab tissue bioaccumulation on beaches associated with urban areas, agricultural areas, oil industry, and pristine areas. Collaborating research institutions include the University of California at Santa Barbara and the California Department of Fish and Game Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory.

Data will be used to guide development of an ongoing monitoring program to screen for pollutants on sandy beaches. ·Funding has been provided to sea otter researchers at U.C. Davis and the California Department of Fish and Game Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center to study several pathogens that are associated with sea otter mortality. Sources of protozoal pathogens are being investigated through deployment of shellfish, both in identified high risk areas (Elkhorn Slough and Morro Bay) and in control areas. Other pathogens found in sea otter feces are also being investigated.

Funding has been obtained in collaboration with the Central Coast Long-term Environmental Assessment Network to analyze archived sea otter tissues for contaminants. ·Working with Monterey Bay dischargers, CCAMP initiated and continues to collaborate with the Central Coast Long-term Environmental Assessment Network (CCLEAN). This group of ocean dischargers has reorganized NPDES receiving water monitoring activities to utilize an ambient approach in assessing pollutant loading to the Monterey Bay area. Additional information on CCLEAN is available through the SIMON website.

Monitoring Trends

  • Years of mussel tissue monitoring through the State Mussel Watch Program show strong associations between legacy pesticide concentrations and high rainfall years. There is little evidence of a declining trend at some long-term monitoring sites.
  • Nutrient concentrations increase dramatically in the lower reaches of streams and rivers in major agricultural areas, with nitrate concentrations often exceeding the drinking water standard. Problem areas include the Salinas River and tributaries below Chualar Bridge, Alisal Creek, the Salinas Reclamation Canal, Tembladero Slough, Pajaro River and Llagas Creek.
  • Toxicity and benthic invertebrate community degradation has been documented in several waterbodies which drain areas of irrigated agricultural land. Both chlorpyrifos and diazinon have been shown to contribute directly to toxicity in several of these areas. Toxicity sampling is conducted through the U.C. Davis Granite Canyon Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory, a CCAMP program collaborator.


All data is made available on the CCAMP website, at Quality assurance procedures follow the State Water Resource Control Board's Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program.

Study Parameters

  • DDT
  • Total coliform
  • Fecal coliform
  • Metals
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Phosphate
  • Ortho-phosphate
  • Other nutrients
  • Turbidity
  • Conductivity
  • pH
  • Organics
  • Other pollutants
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Macro-invertebrates
  • Habitat
  • Diversity
  • Trophic association
  • Multi-species toxicity testing

Study Methods

CCAMP follows methods and materials as outlined in the Quality Assurance Program Plan for the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). SWAMP is a State Water Resources Control Board program which is the major funding source for CCAMP. The SWAMP QAPP specifies target reporting limits, and generally adopts a performance-based approach to analytical methods. The SWAMP QAPP can be viewed at