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Poster presenting the preliminary results of an Ohio Sea Grant research project on copper concentrations in Lake Erie marina sediments.
One of the recent and challenging topics in the marina industry is managing wastewater from boat bottom washing. After the ban of tributyltin in the 1980s, copper became the primary biocide used in antifouling paints. The effects of copper on aquatic organisms have been well documented in the scientific community, and copper is listed on the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Recovery’s Priority List of Hazardous Substances. Copper oxide leaches from the boat bottom surface, often entering the water as a free copper ion and adsorbing suspended particulate matter as it settles and accumulates in the sediment. As a result, copper concentrations in sediment are often two to three orders of magnitude greater than in the water column. Ohio Sea Grant collaborated with Bowling Green State University and Lake Erie marinas to establish preliminary data on copper accumulation in sediment over the course of one boating season, and to quantify the amount of copper contributed by boat bottom washing during that season. Sediment samples were taken at 8 marinas along Lake Erie, at three targeted locations: the boat haul-out area, permanent dockage, and at the mouth of the marina. The project aided scientists, agencies, marina owners, and boaters in obtaining a better picture of the contribution of boat bottom wash wastewater to copper concentrations in Lake Erie nearshore sediments, and in finding sustainable solutions for boat bottom washing.