State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2012NY181B
Title: Pollution Trade-Offs Associated with the Use of Riparian Zones as Best Management Practices
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2012
End Date: 2/29/2013
Congressional District: 25
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Management and Planning, Nitrate Contamination
Keywords: Riparian Zones, Nitrate Removal, Nutrient Biogeochemistry, Greenhouse Gases
Principal Investigator: Vidon, Philippe Gilles (SUNY-ESF)
Federal Funds: $ 19,840
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,722
Abstract: Riparian zones (near stream zones) are widely recommended best management practices (BMP) to mitigate the impact of agriculture on the quality of our waters owing to their inherent ability to remove nitrate from subsurface flow[1]. However, recent research suggests that the strong biogeochemical gradient often observed in riparian zones as water moves from the upland environment to streams also influences the fate and transport of many other redox sensitive elements such as phosphorus, sulfate and iron, as well as the production and/or consumption of greenhouse gases (GHG) (N2O, CO2, CH4)[3,4,5]. These elements affect the quality of our water and air, and it is critical to determine to what extent the promotion of riparian zones as BMPs for nitrate removal is done at the expense of air quality (greenhouse gas production), or at the expense of water quality vis-à-vis phosphorus, sulfate and/or iron, and associated contaminants? Quantifying the concentration of P in solution (Soluble Reactive Phosphorus (SRP)), the Sulfate/Sulfide and FeII/FeIII ratios, and the fluxes of N2O, CO2, CH4 gases at the soil-atmosphere interface in relation to nitrate (NO3-) concentrations and fluxes is therefore critical to develop intelligent riparian zone management practices allowing for the reduction of NO3-concentration in subsurface flow without negatively affecting air quality (GHG production) or water quality with respect to P, S, Fe and associated contaminants. We propose a study that focuses on the impact of stream meander geometry (i.e. curvature) on pollution trade-offs (GHG production, P, S, and Fe release) in a typical central NY riparian zone.

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