Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2010AR249B

Assessment of water quality and stream bank stability following BMP implementation on the upper Strawberry River watershed

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2010 Start Date: 2010-03-01 End Date: 2011-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $22,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $44,000

Principal Investigators: Jennifer Bouldin

Abstract: Sedimentation has been shown to have a negative impact on waterways. An influx of excess sediment can affect both the flora and fauna of the receiving water. Sediment can decrease light penetration, affect organisms ability to breathe and feed, and fill in habitats necessary for organisms’ survival. This can lead to a decrease in diversity and a shift in communities to abundance of more tolerant species. In addition, other harmful components, such as excess nutrients and pathogens, may be attached to sediments and released into receiving waters. Agricultural activities may increase the amount of sediment entering a waterway. Cattle that enter waterways may cause sloughing to the bank as well as disturb the bottom substrate causing an increase in turbidity. Cattle also have the potential to introduce pathogens to the water through defecation. We will examine the efficacy of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the upper Strawberry River Watershed implemented as part of an EPA 319 grant. These include livestock fencing, pasture planting, grassland maintenance, and livestock watering facilities with heavy use protection areas. Tests to determine the effectiveness of the BMPs over the granting period will include: nutrient analysis, chlorophyll a analysis,total suspended solids (TSS), turbidity, benthic macroinvertebrate analysis, stream bank analysis, Escherichia coli levels, and aqueous and sediment toxicity bioassays. By assessing a variety of water quality parameters we will be able to determine a “whole picture” perspective of the BMPs effectiveness. Protection of upper headwater streams will improve ecosystem integrity downstream in this Ecologically Sensitive Waterbody. This study has the potential to expand the knowledge base of improved water quality from stream-side agricultural BMPs.