Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Kevin Benton - Elizabeth City State University
Co-Author(s): Kamberlin King, Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, MS
The Pasquotank River Watershed is found in Northeast North Carolina beginning in the Great Dismal Swamp at the Virginia/North Carolina border and flows into the Albemarle Sound. The watershed provides a transition between the Great Dismal Swamp and the waters of the Albemarle Sound. The watershed is surrounded by a variety of landforms including swamps, farmland, and suburban developments. These produce a variety of runoff into the watershed affecting both the aquatic vegetation and marine life in the waters. This project built on the previous analysis of the four tributaries and the Pasquotank River completed in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The 2016 Research Experience for Undergraduates Pasquotank River Watershed Team completed one set of tests of the watershed. These test points originated from the 2011 and 2013 research projects with the addition of four points created in 2014 to sample further downstream in the Pasquotank River. The results were compared with previous readings utilizing a Water Quality Index (WQI), a unitless number ranging from 1 to 100 with higher numbers denoting better water quality. The waterways tested were the Pasquotank River, Newbegun Creek, Knobbs Creek, Areneuse Creek, Mill Dam Creek, and Sawyers Creek. These creeks, along with the Pasquotank River, cover a large portion of the watershed and provided a wide area of study for the watershed. Tests performed in the laboratory on this year’s samples include pH, salinity, total dissolved solids, and conductivity. Air/water temperature, dissolved oxygen, wind speed/direction, and turbidity/clarity measurements were taken in the field. The results collected were placed online and displayed in correlation to their position utilizing Google Maps. The data was then compared to the previous projects results. The overall WQI for all of the tested waterways combined remained in a constant pattern. All of the waterways, except for Sawyers Creek, were at their lowest WQI when being compared to past research ranging from 2011 to 2015. The Lower Pasquotank still has the best water quality index, but the waterway had a significant decrease in its water quality score. When compared to the results of the 2014 team and the 2015 team, the Lower Pasquotank water quality went from a good Water Quality Index score to a medium Water Quality Index score, dropping 21 points. Newbegun Creek, Areneuse Creek, Mill Dam Creek, Sawyers Creek, Knobbs Creek, and the Pasquotank River all had bad Water Quality Index scores this year.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation, Dr. Linda Hayden
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Wood, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Testing and collecting water samples, and putting the recorded data into the charts to calculate the Water Quality Index.