Review of Author’s Responses to Panel Comments on 2007 sfer chapter 2



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Subject: Chapter 2 Evaluation – Otto Stein

Review of Author’s Responses to Panel Comments on 2007 SFER Chapter 2 (and appendices)

Reviewer Note: As a new reviewer I made none of the original comments on the 2007 report, therefore I must interpret not only the authors’ responses, but also the comments of the previous reviewer.

Overall, the authors have addressed the reviewer comments, incorporating suggestions, or at least taking then under advisement. For completeness, I address each specific comment individually below and identify them numerically in the order in which they appear and by page number.


Review of Specific Comments and Author Responses:

Comment 1 (pg App. 1A-4-11,12): The authors have clearly changed the presentation format for the main Chapter 2 as suggested by the reviewer.

Comment 2 (pg App. 1A-4-13): It appears that the authors have created the necessary tags in the database for some of the suggested changes (upgrade of a sensor at a specific sample station) but not others (a discontinuation or relocation of a station) due to the difficulty in database management, therefore those changes are still recorded elsewhere. Unfortunately, changes in location are more like to cause a change in measurement without a change in actual condition. This may or may not be an issue, but easy access to a change in location would allow the reader to look for any potential bias due to the location change.

Appendix 2-4

Comment 3 (pg App. 1A-4-13): Directly related to comment 2 above. It may be worthwhile to make the information readily available in one place.

Comment 4 (pg App. 1A-4-14): Same response as comments 2 and 3.

Comment 5 (pg App. 1A-4-14): My understanding of the comment is that the reviewer would like documentation, or at least the data, to determine if there is a bias in long term records due to equipment changes and is not necessarily related to a reduction in random error per se. Is the response implying that the long term records have been checked for bias and none was found?

Comment 6 (pg App. 1A-4-14): Are the documents containing the “further details” of the sampling locations readily available to the reviewers should they choose to explore this further?

Comment 7 (pg App. 1A-4-14): The response seems quite reasonable, but relates to most of the comments above, Have long term records been checked or has there simply been a recording of appropriate data to at some time do this checking?

Comment 8 (pg App. 1A-4-15): The authors have supplied the requested data in the enclosed table.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:39 PM

Originally Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:33 PM


Subject: Chapter 3B Evaluation – Otto Stein

Review of Author’s Responses to Panel Comments on 2007 SFER Chapter 3B

Reviewer Note: As a new reviewer I made none of the original comments on the 2007 report, therefore I must interpret not only the authors’ responses, but also the comments of the previous reviewer.

Overall, the authors have addressed the reviewer comments, incorporating suggestions, or at least taking then under advisement. For completeness, I address each specific comment individually below and identify them numerically in the order in which they appear and by page number.


Review of Specific Comments and Author Responses:

Comment 1 (pg App. 1A-4-21,22): I believe the reviewer was merely suggesting that the overall structure of Chapter 3A, 3B, and 3C should be similar whenever possible. As pointed out by the authors, the knowledge base for different parameters in different so it might not be possible to have exactly the same structure. Agreed, but when practical, the overall structure should be similar for readability if nothing else.

Comment 2 (pg App. 1A-4-22): Similar to comment 1 above, not issue here.

Comment 3 (pg App. 1A-4-22): If not USGS then someone entity should explore the temporary and spatial heterogeneity of mercury and sulfur. (See my comments to Appendix 3B­3).

Comment 4 (pg App. 1A-4-23): It would appear that sulfur’s influence on many parameters is a focus area of the 2008 report. This should shed more light on this comment and many others.

Comment 5 (pg App. 1A-4-23): Done.

Comment 6 (pg App. 1A-4-23): See comments 3 and 4 above.

Comment 7 (pg App. 1A-4-23): Was this funding secured?


Peer Review Panel Report Summary Comments

Most of these comments and responses are summaries of the comments above and there is little controversy as the authors agree with virtually all of the comments made by the reviewer.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:39 PM

Originally Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:34 PM


Subject: Appendix 3B-3 Evaluation – Otto Stein

Reviewer Note: As a new reviewer I made none of the original comments on the 2007 report, therefore I must interpret not only the authors’ responses, but also the comments of the previous reviewer.

In general, the authors have made a good-faith effort to address the reviewer comments, incorporating most suggestions, or at least taking them under advisement, answering specific questions and/or adequately rebutting issues they disagree with. For completeness, I address each specific comment individually below and identify them numerically in the order in which they appear and by page number.


Review of Specific Comments and Author Responses:

Comment 1 (pg App. 1A-4-75): One could argue that the authors did not adequately address the comment in isolation, but it is clear that the rest of the comments could be considered subsets of this generic comment and thus it is addressed in total.

Comment 2 (pg App. 1A-4-75): To summarize sulfate is the primary source of sulfur, but the bio-geochemical transformation of the sulfate is the “problem”. The comment and response are just two sides of the same coin.

Comment 3 (pg App. 1A-4-75,76): I am glad to see that the authors are performing mesocosm studies of the link between surface-water sulfate concentrations and MeHg production. This should lead to a better understanding of the phenomenon. However, the reviewers comment taken in larger context is valid, sulfur cycling in wetlands is quite complex and not well quantified, therefore it is likely that a one-parameter cause-and-effect model will only offer a partial answer to this complex question. The authors should push to have more sulfur data collected and made available to better assess other transformations and sinks of sulfur in the EPA system. In addition to sediment sulfur data, the influence of divalent metals especially iron, on sulfide precipitation and sequestration, and sulfur oxidizing bacteria in these open water systems might also be important.

Comment 4 (pg App. 1A-4-76): The comment and response is directly related to the above Comment 3. These data will be critical for a better determination of the sulfur cycle in the EPA.

Comment 5 (pg App. 1A-4-76,77): This is a very open-ended comment and the authors indicate that they are raising important questions that need to be answered before a direct link can be established. I would suggest that the temporal issues are probably more important than the spatial ones. Has there been any attempt to determine the time required for a influent sulfate molecule to influence mercury methylation and then move up the food chain to the fish species of importance? A direct link between current sulfate concentrations and fish tissue mercury concentrations may be impossible if these time scales are large and could explain the large spatial diversity.

Comment 5 (pg App. 1A-4-77): The authors have done an excellent job of addressing this comment and demonstrate that the authors are taking several parallel approaches to determining the sources of sulfate in the influent.

Comment 6 (pg App. 1A-4-77,78,79): Again the authors indicate they are quite knowledgeable about the link between sulfate, sulfide and mercury methylation. I agree that sulfate reduction is the obvious first process to focus on however, to re-iterate on comment 3 above, the sulfur cycle will probably need much better characterization before a direct link between sulfate and MeHg production can be fully established in the EPA.

Comment 7 (pg App. 1A-4-79): Responses to previous comments, especially the response to comment 6, make convincing arguments as to the link between sulfate concentration and MeHg production. However, I look forward to more study on the entire sulfur cycle in the EPA as an important bridge between sulfur and mercury cycles.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:38 PM

Originally Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:30 PM


Subject: Chapter 5 Evaluation – Otto Stein

Review of Author’s Responses to Panel Comments on 2007 SFER Chapter 5

Reviewer Note: As a new reviewer I made none of the original comments on the 2007 report, therefore I must interpret not only the authors’ responses, but also the comments of the previous reviewer.

In general, the authors have made a good-faith effort to address the reviewer comments, incorporating most suggestions, or at least taking then under advisement, answering specific questions and/or adequately rebutting issues they disagree with. For completeness, I address each specific comment individually below and identify them numerically in the order in which they appear and by page number.


Review of Specific Comments and Author Responses:

Comment 1 (pg App. 1A-4-32):

I believe the reviewer is referring to Table 5-39 and the associated summary plots (Figs. 5-57 to 5-65) as there is no Table 5-59. No one can dispute that the best way to calibrate mathematical models and hence better manage the STAs, is to look at the previous performance data for future guidance, as suggested by the reviewer. The authors’ response clearly demonstrates that the District is taking this approach, but implies that unavoidable untreated diversions due to floods are a source of the relationship between increased TP loading and increased TP effluent concentration. If this is true, managing the STAs to deal with periodic untreated diversions to minimize their impact on the overall performance will be necessary.

The text added to the executive summary and chapter helps to demonstrate that the District is indeed using the collected data in management decisions, but I note that the stated text revision was modified before being added to the Executive Summary and the very important second paragraph was omitted, at least from the summary and I could not find it in the chapter. In the future when clear revisions like this are made, it would be helpful to state where the revision is located within the chapter.

Comment 2 (pg App. 1A-4-33): I agree that this chapter should focus on performance issues and more mundane issues such as the permit status could be in an appendix. I assume this comment relates to the new tri-level of review previously suggested by the review panel and initiated this year. Will the 2008 chapter been reformatted as suggested?

Comments 3 (pg App. 1A-4-33,34): What progress has been made in research to analyze the 2006 (and other) data to develop a cause and effect relationships between various types of plant stress (turbidity, dry-out, loading rate) and performance? These weather-related problems are not one-time events over the design life of the system, hurricanes and drought will continue in the future. Operational objectives will have to consider them and it is good to see the district is focused on them.

Comment 4 (pg App. 1A-4-34): Done.

Comment 5 (pg App. 1A-4-34): At what frequency is newly collected and analyzed data incorporated into the DMSTA2 model?

Comment 6 (pg App. 1A-4-34): This comment is related to comment 3 above. The reviewer’s questions are valid and the authors’ response quite appropriate. However vegetation management will have to consider the influence of drought, floods etc. Assuredly periphyton plants, and presumably SAV, will be more sensitive than emergent vegetation to drought and, based on the 2005 and 2006 data, hurricane damage. A concern will be the long term viability and maintenance issues in trying to keep all vegetation types established and performing optimally in the STAs.

Comment 7 (pg App. 1A-4-35): The comment is quite general and the author’s response is appropriate.

Comment 8 (pg App. 1A-4-35): The positive comment relates to a re-organization of the Chapter in 2007 and suggestions to continue a similar re-organization in the future. Authors state they will take the suggestions under advisement.

Comment 9 (pg App. 1A-4-35): These questions were adequately addressed.

Comment 10 (pg App. 1A-4-35): The comment regards inclusion of public education in future activities. Authors’ response indicates some positive developments such informational kiosks and posting of information on the website. While education per se might not be a primary function of the district, I wonder how many local people are aware of the incredible activities for environmental stewardship and pollution control are going in their vicinity. I suggest the district be more proactive in addressing educational activities especially with the K-12 age level that would likely be very impressed with the work and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Comment 11 (pg App. 1A-4-35,36): The comment regards turbidity. I am somewhat surprised that increased turbidity was not “directly linked” to increased TP concentrations. I assume TP included particulate forms and I would suspect that the colloidal material encompassing turbidity would have relatively high concentrations of sorbed P. In fact, it seems P (and metals), that readily sorb to colloidal material, would be most affected by turbidity. A potential link between turbidity and effluent TP should be further explored.

Comment 12 (pg App. 1A-4-36): The authors incorporated this editorial comment in the final draft.

Comment 13 (pg App. 1A-4-36): This comment (regarding depth of water in the SAV) appears to be one of the questions currently being answered by experiment. This should be continued.

Comment 14 (pg App. 1A-4-36): I am not quite sure what the reviewer intended with this comment and perhaps the authors did not either. Whether ammonia is ionized or not depends primarily on the pH of the water. It is standard practice to include the sum of both as “ammonia N” realizing that unionized ammonia is significant in alkaline water and NH4+ is significant in acid water and the form is free to move back and forth as conditions change. To clarify, are the reported data for the sum of both NH3 (aq) and NH4+ species?

Comment 15 (pg App. 1A-4-36): Done.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:39 PM

Originally Posted: 10 Jul 2007 07:32 PM

Subject: Chapter 2 Evaluation – Neal Armstrong


SFER 2007 Chapter 2 and Appendices 2-2 and 2-4

Chapter 2 – Hydrology (and associated appendices) was to be reviewed by the SFER Panel at the Accountability Review level, and Dr. Ward and others providing comments to this topic provided an excellent review with a focus on chapter organization so that hydrology material was provided to the reader in an orderly and informative fashion and a focus on environmental monitoring over space and time with special attention to the data record as affected by equipment and station location changes. The Panel’s comments were directed appropriately toward improving the hydrologic data record so that long-term hydrology trends and spatial changes can be detected with confidence.

The authors of the chapter and the two appendices (Appendices 2-3 and 2-4) responded in very positive and helpful ways to the two recommendations and seven comments, and they are to be commended for incorporating the responses to most of the recommendations and comments in the final version of this chapter and appendices. There are several areas where more information could be incorporated into Chapter 2 and Appendix 2-4, and these are noted in the detailed account of responses to recommendations and comments below. Specifically: (a) Chapter 2 in SFER 2008 could reference the information on DBKEY that was incorporated into Appendix 2-4;

(b) the current monitoring design studies could incorporate sites in which long-term data consistency is explicitly studied and could examine water quality as well as rainfall, flow, and stage; and (c) the information on missing data due to equipment malfunction could be incorporated into Chapter 2 and Appendix 2-4 for flow, rainfall, and for water quality.

Specific itemization for recommendations and comments follow:

SFER 2007 Chapter 2

Panel Recommendation

Author Response

1. Chapter 2 reorganization recommended.

Chapter 2 was reorganized in recommended order in final version of SFER 2007 with plans to organize this chapter in SFER 2008 in the same way.

2. Document hydrometeorologic measurement network changes in Chapter 2 and Appendix 2­4 to assure that hydrology changes are actual rather than due to changes in network or measurement equipment.

A Microsoft Access-based database is currently used to store this documentation, but a new DBKEY has been created in DBHYDRO when upgraded equipment (sensor and/or communication system) is installed at the sampling station. This addition to DBHYDRO is noted in Appendix 2-4 but not in Chapter 2.


SFER 2007 Appendix 2-2 SFER 2007 Appendix 2-4


Panel Comment

Author Response

1. How does the District record the equipment used for past and present water quality measurements.

Author reported that such information is recorded in various separate databases including DBHYDRO. For flow measurements, for example, such information is recorded in the QMEAS database, as subset of DBHYDRO.

2. Can changes in equipment be noted?

See response #2 for Chapter 2 above.

3. How does equipment change affect data consistence and quality over time?

Because technology has improved over time, data quality has as well. While the error band of the data has been reduced, there is not necessarily a need to adjust the data.

4. How will future sampling locations be “optimized”? What criteria will be used to determine sampling locations?

The authors noted that such optimization depends on the parameter and that further details are available in the District’s optimization studies on rain gauge location and flow and stage networks. This Appendix has sections on these optimization studies and references for them in the Reference list.

5. In current monitoring design studies, will a subset of sampling sites [be] denoted long-term sampling sites where the emphasis is on consistency over long periods of time?\

The author assumed a definition of consistency in the absence of one by the Panel and answered “yes”. Examples of flow and stage data were given. However, in Appendix 2-4 “consistency” seemed to be applied only to the rain gauge data. If flow and stage are used as examples, then it would be helpful if the authors would extend such discussion not only to flow and stage but to water quality as well.

6. Is it possible to estimate the percentage of data lost to equipment malfunction?

The authors note that it is possible to estimate missing data due to equipment malfunction, and estimates of missing data for mean daily flow and daily rainfall are given for 2001 through 2005. Such data were not added to Appendix 2-4 in SFER 2007, and the authors are encouraged to do so in SFER 2008 and to add water quality missing data if possible.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007 02:00 PM



Originally Posted: 10 Jul 2007 01:59 PM

Subject: Chapter 4 Evaluation – Neal Armstrong

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