Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Ricky Dixon - Mississippi Valley State University
Co-Author(s): Jamal Stevenson and Raveen McKenzie, Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, MS
The Pasquotank River Watershed covers over 450 square miles and is located in the Coastal Plain of northeastern North Carolina. It flows from the Great Dismal Swamp at the Virginia/ North Carolina border into the Albemarle Sound. The watershed is part of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System, the second largest system in the United States after the Chesapeake Bay Estuary and provides a transition between spawning grounds and the waters of the Albemarle Sound. Forested swamp wetlands border much of the waterways. Increased agricultural and urban development has greatly affected water quality during recent years. The 2015 Research Experience for Undergraduates Pasquotank River Watershed Team completed various tests along the tributaries and the river itself, adding to the previously gathered data from 2011, 2013, and 2014. The test points were derived during the 2011 Summer Watershed Team research project with four points added during the 2014 summer project. Results were compared with previous readings for analysis. Streams tested were the Newbegun Creek, Knobbs Creek, Areneuse Creek, Mill Dam Creek, and Sawyers Creek. These streams, along with the river, cover a large area of the watershed and provide a wide variety of shore development from swampland and farmland to industrial development. Inhouse tests on this year’s samples continued to 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 from these readings were placed into an online database where they are correlated to the location of the sample using Google Maps®. Analysis tools were developed in order to compare the data from all years for any variations or similarities. Excel spreadsheets were developed to look more closely at individual points and tests for each point. Past projects have used a general analysis of the entire stream to determine water quality. Steps were also made to research the development of an online graphing tool for analyzing the data at individual points over several years. Test results collected were added to a database developed during the 2014-2015 academic year at Elizabeth City State University. This database was connected to a data visualization page utilizing Google Maps®. The results show that there were variations for the individual water quality scores, but the overall water quality score for all the tested water sources remained at a comparable level from previous years. Mill Dam Creek rose above the previous three scores of 48 (2011), 47 (2013), and 49 (2014) and achieved a medium water quality score of 57. Areneuse Creek improved in water quality with a medium water quality score of 60. Sawyers Creek became the lowest scoring waterway tested at 35. Knobbs Creek decreased from previous years with a water quality score of 42. For a fourth consecutive testing year, Newbegun Creek fell within the medium water quality range with a score of 65. Pasquotank River rose from the previous testing year’s score of 35 but still remained within the bad water quality range with a score of 45. The Lower Pasquotank remained the highest scoring tributary for a second consecutive year with a score of 85.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Center for Remote Sensing in Ice Sheets
Faculty Advisor: Jeff Wood,