Abinash Agrawal (Committee Member), Songlin Cheng (Committee Chair), Doyle Watts (Committee Member)
Master of Science (MS)
Stream water quality is increasingly threatened by expanding anthropogenic activities, mainly through point source discharges and urban and agricultural runoffs of contaminants getting through a water body's watershed resulting in pollution. Concerns developed as to whether urban or agricultural type activities were causing most water quality impairment issues in the upper Little Miami River watershed in southwest Ohio.
Characterizing the upper Little Miami River (LMR) watershed with respect to water chemistry and Land Use/Land Cover (LULC) while evaluating the sources of any higher than expected natural parameter concentrations, with a strong emphasis on the nutrients phosphorus and nitrate, serves as this study's purpose. Efforts are made to determine the greatest non-point source nutrient contribution by specific LULC type watersheds and compare findings with known point source nutrient contributions.
Up to 23 sites were sampled during dry weather conditions covering all seasons except winter, ranging from July 2009 to November 2010. Sampling began near the head works of the upper LMR watershed at LMR mile 102, site #1 and ended with site #23 at LMR mile 51.3. Data obtained from the analysis of these samples has been comparatively graphed, spatially and statistically analyzed, and worked into loading calculations for comparisons to available online data, such as point source information.
General water chemistry measurements show trends of specific ion concentrations, such as sodium and chloride, in relation to LULC drainage areas connected to sampled pour points. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrate have concentration amounts significantly influenced by non-agricultural anthropogenic activities. Statistical analyses of the generated data support the observed trends through correlation coefficients. Estimated stream/river flows at the sampled sites provide loading value development of specific parameters that further support significant trends and correlations even when at times the site concentration values of specific parameters drop downstream due to dilution by incoming natural waters.
Observations of most significance involved the nutrient phosphorus and the salt NaCl, which showed the highest concentrations to be associated with urban type Land Uses/ Land Covers, such as residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, urban grasses, and drainage classes. Further study revealed that Water Reclamation Facilities (WRF) residing within the urban areas, provided the major source of phosphorus. Where WRF discharge loadings could be separated from estimated loadings calculated at the sample sites, though only in a small section of the whole study area, Agricultural as well as Urban Grasses LULC watershed types show to be at least a secondary source of the nutrients phosphorus and nitrate.
Department or Program
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Year Degree Awarded
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