Project Title

THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON NUTRIENT CONTAMINATION HOTSPOTS WITHIN A SMALL, INTERMITTENT WATERSHED AT EKU’S MEADOWBROOK FARM, MADISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY

Presenter Hometown

Richmond

Major

Geology and Chemistry

Department

Geosciences

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Jonathan Malzone

Mentor Department

Geosciences

Abstract

Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Meadowbrook Farm and many others in the Muddy Creek watershed are located within small, intermittent subwatersheds with thin, impermeable soils and little riparian cover. Hence, these locations tend to have flashy hydrographs and quickly funnel water into larger order streams without many opportunities for nutrient attenuation. These combined factors make intermittent watersheds potential nutrient contamination hotspots that may disproportionately impact larger water bodies. However, the impacts of surface-groundwater interactions on baseflow nutrient behavior in these small intermittent watersheds and potential ramifications for large-scale watershed contamination is not well understood. Hence, we characterized spatial and temporal sources and controls on nutrients and their baseflow transport behaviors. Seventeen sampling sites were established at different water types in one of these watersheds at EKU’s Meadwobrook Farm. Electrical conductivity(EC), temperature, and pH were measured with a YSI Pro-DSS probe. Dissolved major ions (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, Cl-, and SO42-) and nutrients (NO3-, NH4+, PO43-) were measured with ion chromatography and UV-Vis spectrometry. Principal component analysis (PCA) shows incomplete dilution of contaminated farm complex water by local groundwater-soil-surface waters. Furthermore, PCA results show that this contamination slowly diminishes after the end of the growing season and renews with agricultural activities. GIS analysis shows that similar intermittent watersheds comprise ~10% of the Muddy Creek watershed. Despite being a minor water flow contributor to higher order streams, the presence of intensive agriculture in these specific regions could have a disproportionate impact on nutrient loading.

Presentation format

Poster

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THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON NUTRIENT CONTAMINATION HOTSPOTS WITHIN A SMALL, INTERMITTENT WATERSHED AT EKU’S MEADOWBROOK FARM, MADISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY

Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Meadowbrook Farm and many others in the Muddy Creek watershed are located within small, intermittent subwatersheds with thin, impermeable soils and little riparian cover. Hence, these locations tend to have flashy hydrographs and quickly funnel water into larger order streams without many opportunities for nutrient attenuation. These combined factors make intermittent watersheds potential nutrient contamination hotspots that may disproportionately impact larger water bodies. However, the impacts of surface-groundwater interactions on baseflow nutrient behavior in these small intermittent watersheds and potential ramifications for large-scale watershed contamination is not well understood. Hence, we characterized spatial and temporal sources and controls on nutrients and their baseflow transport behaviors. Seventeen sampling sites were established at different water types in one of these watersheds at EKU’s Meadwobrook Farm. Electrical conductivity(EC), temperature, and pH were measured with a YSI Pro-DSS probe. Dissolved major ions (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, Cl-, and SO42-) and nutrients (NO3-, NH4+, PO43-) were measured with ion chromatography and UV-Vis spectrometry. Principal component analysis (PCA) shows incomplete dilution of contaminated farm complex water by local groundwater-soil-surface waters. Furthermore, PCA results show that this contamination slowly diminishes after the end of the growing season and renews with agricultural activities. GIS analysis shows that similar intermittent watersheds comprise ~10% of the Muddy Creek watershed. Despite being a minor water flow contributor to higher order streams, the presence of intensive agriculture in these specific regions could have a disproportionate impact on nutrient loading.