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Building Environmental Intelligence (BEI) (formerly BASIN)

Scope and Purpose

Building Environmental Intelligence (BEI) -- formerly BASIN -- is an effort to develop new approaches to expand and sustain of the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) monitoring activities to meet the needs of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.  Initially, a review of the Chesapeake Bay Program water quality monitoring networks was conducted in the summer of 2013 due to a $944,000 gap in the budget for FY13. After the review, the CBP realized a longer term solution was needed in order to maintain existing water-quality networks and expand monitoring to address the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. The CBP Management Board directed the BEI process be carried out in three phases.

BEI Overview Paper

  • Bill Dennison (Co-Chair), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES)
  • Mark Bennett (Co-Chair), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Scott Phillips (Vice-Chair), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Peter Tango (Coordinator), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Lea Rubin (Staff), Chesapeake Research Consortium

  • Kirk Havens, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
  • Carl Hershner, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
  • Denise Wardrop, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

Building Environmental Intelligence Final Report

Building Environmental Intelligence (BEI)  is a three-part effort by the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership’s Scientific, Technical, Assessment and Reporting (STAR) Team experts to discover new, smarter approaches for both sustaining and expanding the Bay Program’s vast water quality monitoring networks.

Begun as a result of a funding gap, which was addressed in Phase I of STAR’s BEI work, the overall BEI research soon evolved into a search for creative, progressive, long-term strategies for managing the Bay Program monitoring effort; strategies that will be effective at supporting partners’ collaboration toward meeting the goals and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.

This report, Building Environmental Intelligence: Leading the Future of Water Quality Monitoring is the culmination of BEI’s Phase II: Exploration and Discovery.  It is a compilation of the innovations and new ideas that STAR experts uncovered in the course of their outreach to groups around the world, as well as wisdom gleaned during topical workshops and internal discussions.  It provides STAR’s best and highest recommendations for Bay Program leadership to consider in order to foster a strong and resilient monitoring network that will take the partnership into the next generation of watershed restoration.

BEI Phase II: Water Quality Monitoring Networks Exploration

Phase II of BEI was to develop approaches to sustain and evolve the water-quality monitoring networks by looking for efficiencies and recommending future steps to address funding uncertainties (i.e. inflation, budgetary changes). Phase II began with a global webinar series to gain insights from monitoring programs around the globe and continued with topical workshops and internal meetings connecting the lessons learned from the global webinar series to options in the Chesapeake Bay. 

BEI Phase II Discussions:

BEI Phase II Review (Webinar by Bill Dennison of IAN, UMCES) to download audio or slide

Innovative Approaches to Monitoring Workshop - December 8, 2014

Shallow Water Monitoring Vision Document - In review.

BEI Case Studies:

BEI Phase I: Short Term FY13 Funding Gap Filling Options

The Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership’s water quality monitoring program was under budgetary pressures in 2013 resulting in a 945K funding gap to sustain the CBP tidal and nontidal monitoring networks. To address the 2013 funding shortfall, CBP-STAR and its workgroups worked with the partnership from June into August in reviewing and developing short-term options that addressed the funding shortfall. Four scenarios were derived with multiple levels of reduced Federal funding. Each scenario outlined the ability of monitoring programming at that funding level to preserve monitoring and analysis functions supporting CBP priorities for assessing water quality standards in the Bay and tracking management progress and targeting efforts in the watershed.

The combined gap-filling efforts with financial resources of the partnership focused on the watershed and resulted in retaining all but four stations of the 126 station nontidal network for one more year. In the Bay, one winter water quality cruise is being cut from the program and nutrients will not be collected during two summer cruises in both MD and VA. Additionally, there was no financial support available for the proposed benthic index of biotic integrity recalibration effort.


BEI Phase I was discussed at the following meetings:

July Tidal Monitoring and Analysis Workgroup (TMAW) Meeting (July 10, 2013)

July Nontidal Water Quality Workgroup (NTWG) Meeting (July 17, 2013)

July 2013 Scientific, Technical Assessment, and Reporting (STAR) Team Special Session -- Topic: BASIN (July 22, 2013)


Options for FY13 Funding Shortfall (Addressing the Management Board):

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