Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013DC154B

Continuous Monitoring of Urea Concentrations and Harmful Algal Productivity and Physiology

Institute: District of Columbia
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $13,466 Total Non-Federal Funds: $32,846

Principal Investigators: Caroline Solomon

Abstract: Water quality monitoring in the Anacostia River is plagued by inconsistent and uncoordinated efforts by different municipalities throughout its watershed. Over the years, there have been studies that collect basic and important water quality parameters (e.g. temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, bacteria and phytoplankton composition) that help determine the health of the River. However, one large component that is lacking from these monitoring studies or programs is assessing the concentration and impact of organic nitrogen, especially urea that could compose more than 50% of the total nitrogen that comes from the 17 combined sewage outfalls along the DC portion of the Anacostia River. If present in high concentrations, urea as a liable part of the organic nitrogen (N) pool could simulate harmful dinoflagellate and cyanobacterial blooms that could release toxins in the Anacostia River. This study involves collecting samples at 9 sites determined by the Anacostia Watershed Society for nutrient concentrations, bacteria and phytoplankton composition, nitrogen uptake and assimilation enzyme rates, and toxin production to better understand the impact of organic N in the Anacostia River. Deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students (both non-majors and science majors) will be involved throughout the academic year through a number of courses and summer months by doing internships with sampling, analysis, and interpretation of the data to help raise awareness regarding the health of the Anacostia River.