PEREC’s long term study of Gunston Cove is an internationally recognized case study for ecosystems recovery
In 1984, PEREC began a long-term study of Gunston Cove (A multidecadal report was published in 2020). The study aimed to gain a greater understanding of the ecological conditions of the watershed. The rapid development of Fairfax county led to concerns about the effect of urban runoff, coming from the Accotink and Pohick watershed. Futhermore, there was concern about the effects of the run off from the Potomac Wastewater Treatment Plant. As Gunston Cove is located near the Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge (an area that is home to Bald Eagles), there was a great need for the study. Several goals were established, which includes:
- Determining the abundance of major groups of aquatic organisms
- Compare those aquatic community to other, typical, freshwater ecosystems
- Determine how biological communities and environmental parameters vary by location (i.e. cove, river, inlet stream), season, and depth
- Determine specific effects of plant effluent on the chemistry and biology of the Cove where possible
Four over a quarter century, the same stations at Gunston Cove have been tested. Each year, conclusions are draw regarding the present ecological status of the area, and recommendations for future needs are made to Fairfax County. For more background information, take a look at the introduction from the 1984 Gunston Cove Report.