Title

A Comparison of Water Chemistry and Bacterial Abundance In Urban and Rural Streams at Similar Elevations In the South Carolina Piedmont

School Name

South Carolina Governor's School for Science & Mathematics

Grade Level

12th Grade

Presentation Topic

Environmental Science

Presentation Type

Mentored

Abstract

Land development and increasing population density in watershed areas has been shown to decrease water quality. We sought to determine the influence of urban development on water quality. To do this, we compared urban and rural streams in 1 to 10 km2 watersheds at similar elevations (240-300 m) in the upper Piedmont of South Carolina. Impervious surface cover was 21-52% in urban watersheds and only 0.2-1% in rural watersheds. We hypothesized that bacterial abundance and concentrations of major cations (i.e. Na, Fe, K, Ca, Si, Mg) would be higher in urban than rural streams due to possible influences of urban development as previous studies have suggested. Working from their conclusions, we tested our hypothesis by measuring pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity, water temperature, and stream discharge. In addition, we collected water samples for chemical and bacterial analyses. Analysis of ammonium, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and bacterial concentrations (i.e. total coliforms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, and total heterotrophs) revealed that urban streams had higher concentrations of measured cations and anions and more than double the mean DOC concentration than that of rural streams. Similarly, bacterial populations were higher in urban than rural streams. Our results are consistent with previous studies, suggesting urban infrastructure (e.g. impervious surfaces, leaking sewer lines, and concrete drainage structures) can degrade the quality of water urban streams. Future studies are needed to determine which types of infrastructure have the strongest influences on water quality in urban streams.

Location

Furman Hall 229

Start Date

3-28-2020 11:00 AM

Presentation Format

Oral Only

Group Project

Yes

COinS
 
Mar 28th, 11:00 AM

A Comparison of Water Chemistry and Bacterial Abundance In Urban and Rural Streams at Similar Elevations In the South Carolina Piedmont

Furman Hall 229

Land development and increasing population density in watershed areas has been shown to decrease water quality. We sought to determine the influence of urban development on water quality. To do this, we compared urban and rural streams in 1 to 10 km2 watersheds at similar elevations (240-300 m) in the upper Piedmont of South Carolina. Impervious surface cover was 21-52% in urban watersheds and only 0.2-1% in rural watersheds. We hypothesized that bacterial abundance and concentrations of major cations (i.e. Na, Fe, K, Ca, Si, Mg) would be higher in urban than rural streams due to possible influences of urban development as previous studies have suggested. Working from their conclusions, we tested our hypothesis by measuring pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity, water temperature, and stream discharge. In addition, we collected water samples for chemical and bacterial analyses. Analysis of ammonium, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and bacterial concentrations (i.e. total coliforms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, and total heterotrophs) revealed that urban streams had higher concentrations of measured cations and anions and more than double the mean DOC concentration than that of rural streams. Similarly, bacterial populations were higher in urban than rural streams. Our results are consistent with previous studies, suggesting urban infrastructure (e.g. impervious surfaces, leaking sewer lines, and concrete drainage structures) can degrade the quality of water urban streams. Future studies are needed to determine which types of infrastructure have the strongest influences on water quality in urban streams.