State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007SC50B
Title: A Statewide Sediment and Water Quality Approach to Characterize Pollution in Wadeable Streams of South Carolina (Phase 2).
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: Third
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Sediments, Surface Water
Keywords: Conservation, Environmental Risk Assessment, Anthropogenic Indicators, Point Sources, Non-point Sources, Metals, PAHs
Principal Investigators: Carraway, Elizabeth R.; Klaine, Stephen; Scott, Marc C.
Federal Funds: $ 30,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 83,288
Abstract: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of the State of South Carolina is continuing a statewide effort to "conduct an assessment of wadeable streams to gather appropriate data that will allow SCDNR to design effective and efficient management strategies to protect, conserve, and restore the aquatic resources of the State," in part through a State Wildlife Grant. This assessment includes the development of a sampling plan consisting of randomized locations within small watersheds, landscape-level characterizations of land use in those watersheds, and stream-level characterizations of fish populations. Watersheds of appropriate size (i.e., those that drain to wadeable streams), stratified by unique combinations of ecoregion and major river basin in the state, called "ecobasins," have been identified as the sampling units. The following parameters are characterized within these 300 watersheds: point sources as measured by NPDES permits, nonpoint sources as measured by appropriate land use/land cover classes in entire basin and within riparian buffer, hydrological disruption as measured by impounded area. In each stream, selected measures of channel geomorphology and flow characteristics, water quality, and vertebrate and invertebrate community structure will be quantified. The field sampling activities began in spring 2006 and will continue over two more years. The final product is expected to be one of the most comprehensive statewide assessments of aquatic resources available.

Through cooperation with Clemson University researchers and funding through the South Carolina Water Resources Institute, this statewide assessment is being augmented with measures of biological indicators of contaminant exposure and chemical measurements of a range of metal and organic contaminants in water and sediment samples. Overall, the assessments are intended to provide us with data to better identify and understand causal pathways of threats to aquatic resources. Aquatic resource status and trends can be communicated to interested stakeholders and strategies recommended for resource conservation at the planning stages of land management and development projects.

This proposal describes approaches for chemical analysis of organic compounds and metals in water and sediment samples collected within the 300 small watersheds identified. This effort will be in parallel with another SCWRC proposal for biomarker measurements. By collaborating with DNR, we have a unique opportunity to augment this extensive effort with the determination of sediment and water quality characteristics specifically selected to indicate various types of anthropogenic activities. Through appropriate sampling, preservation, and chemical analyses (ICP-MS and GC-MS), a survey of selected metal and organic pollutants present in sediments and surface water will be completed. Ultimately, the combined results of these parallel projects will contribute to management decisions and practices in South Carolina as well as provide watershed scale results for natural resource protection nationally and internationally.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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