State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010NC147B
Title: Microbial Contaminants Associated with Urbanization of a Drinking Water Reservoir
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: NC-04
Focus Categories: Non Point Pollution, Water Quality, Water Supply
Keywords: land use, fecal coliforms, microbial source tracking, pathogens
Principal Investigator: Stewart, Jill
Federal Funds: $ 13,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 57,896
Abstract: The societal importance of clean drinking water and source protection is fundamental. This research will evaluate spatial and temporal loading of microbial contaminants into a regional lake serving as a water supply in order to develop management options that can most efficiently achieve water quality goals. Specific objectives include: (1) Analyze the magnitude, timing and load distribution of microbial contaminants from surface water sites at Jordan Lake; (2) Relate loading of microbial contaminants to specific land uses and infrastructure, and determine both the quantity and timing of delivery; and (3) Analyze samples for pathogens and human-specific microbial source tracking markers to more directly assess human health risks and to identify sources of pollution.

The proposed research is designed to fill critical research gaps in existing monitoring programs and to expand the UNC Institute for the Environment (IE) Carolina Environmental Synthesis Program titled "Innovative solutions to water supply protection", a project focused on nutrient loading into Jordan Lake. This research will evaluate microbial contaminants in these important waters, and will develop an understanding of contamination sources, mobilization and transport. Project results will be shared with municipal programs, state regulatory personnel and concerned community groups. In this manner, results are expected to inform and guide management decisions to improve water quality at the watershed scale. Funding of this research will create a partnership among researchers trying to understand the effects of human activities (i.e. development) on water quality and human health. This research will also be instrumental in the interdisciplinary education of graduate and undergraduate students who will be trained to address environmental health and water quality issues. It is expected that this project will support goals aimed at long-term reliability of water supplies, and will inform water management in the context of rapid development and non-point source pollution. This work will also yield important information for the scientific, residential and regulatory communities faced with designing and implementing restoration plans in urbanizing watersheds.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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