Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014IN371B

A History of Metal Pollution in the Wabash River, Vigo County, Using Geochemical Records from Pond and Wetland Sediments

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,000

Principal Investigators: Jennifer Latimer

Abstract: The Wabash River is an iconic feature in the state of Indiana, but it is plagued by the perception of poor water quality. In Vigo County, the wetlands along the Wabash River have drawn a lot of new attention in recent years as a habitat for wildlife and area for recreation through initiatives such as Riverscape and the Year of the River, which have served to increase awareness about the Wabash River as a community resource. The research proposed here will evaluate heavy metals and nutrients (phosphorus) in sediment cores recovered from ponds and wetlands adjacent to the river that are intermittently connected when the river floods and act as sediment traps. Preliminary results from a pond (International Paper (IP) holding pond) located in Terre Hautes old industrial park illustrate a trend of decreasing heavy metals over time. Despite this trend, metal concentrations throughout the core are greater than typical background values. The sediment core from the IP holding pond will be further evaluated for metals and nutrients (phosphorus), and new cores will be collected from the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area (WFWA) for similar analyses. It is anticipated that the cores will demonstrate that the intensity of metal pollution has decreased over time, while nutrient loading has increased. The data generated here will be shared with Terre Hautes City Planner, Pat Martin, and DNR (Mark Huter) as well as other interested community groups. The results will be the basis for at least two undergraduate research projects, and will be incorporated into the curriculum for the introductory environmental science course (ENVI110L