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Fifty Years: Southern California Coastal Water Research Project

NOVEMBER 4, 2019 — On October 12, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

Text projected on a screen, "NOAA is the institution we have co-published the most papers with — 69.
Image credit: NOAA.

Since its origin in 1969, SCCWRP's half-century of research on marine environmental quality in the Southern California Bight has spawned many interactions with NOAA. SCCWRP, initially sponsored by five counties, was and continues to be a pioneer in regional, coordinated marine environmental research, and a leader in national and international coastal research and monitoring programs. Sponsors and commissioners now include storm water, and state and federal, management and regulatory agencies, and programs have expanded to include ecohydrology, eutrophication, sediment quality, climate change, and microbial water quality, and expanded use of molecular biology tools.

OR&R's retired biologist, Dr. Alan Mearns, served as a member of the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. Meeting monthly, the committee of past staff, commissioners, and sponsors scoped out celebration events and contacted as many of the cumulative 288 staff, commissioners and science advisory members as possible, seeking memories and contributions.

SCCWRP, NOAA, and other federal and state agencies have had many connections over the past decades. Several “early” SCCWRP staff joined NOAA in the 1980's, among them Alan Mearns who lead OR&R's early Biological Assessment Team in Seattle. NOAA scientists from Fisheries, NCCOS and other offices served on SCCWRP's scientific advisory committees, helping direct research and conducting peer review. NOAA grants supported SCCWRP research on fate and effects of contaminants, ocean transport modeling and coastal monitoring strategies and methods. SCCWRP's contributions to NOAA included support for a major NOAA synthesis of contaminant trends in the Southern California Bight, synthesis of historical data on DDT (that eventually supported the Montrose NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment) case), the National Mussel Watch Program, and initial development of the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).

SCCWRP has published a 109-page commemorative book and produced films featuring its history, accomplishments and first-person interviews, visit SCCWRP 50th anniversary page.

For additional information, contact Alan.Mearns@noaa.gov.

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