Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014SD237B

Source water implications associated with the current Black Hills mountain pine-beetle infestation

Institute: South Dakota
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $19,330 Total Non-Federal Funds: $38,660

Principal Investigators: James Stone, John Stamm

Abstract: The focus of this research is to quantify the source water quality effects due to the current mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak within the Black Hills of South Dakota. Currently, 390,000 acres of Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine within Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) has been impacted and is predicted to exponentially continue throughout the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, resulting in more than 1,000,000+ acres of ponderosa pine die off. As land-surface cover changes, MPB outbreak is suspected to result in significant changes to local and regional surface water and groundwater resources as hydrologic patterns are altered and source-water ‘contaminant’ distributions are altered. These effects may necessitate long-term changes to water management as both the quantity and quality of local and regional surface water and groundwater resource may be compromised. The proposed project will be accomplished through the completion of the following four objectives: 1. Completion of a literature review to further the understanding of potential water resources impacts related to MPB infestations; 2. Development of a protocol for assessing MPB-impacted water resources, including the determination and monitoring dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) – both well documented precursors of disinfection by-products (DPBs)due to their chemical reactive capacity with chlorine disinfection to form cancerous compounds within drinking water distribution systems. In addition, heavy metal mobilization and soil microbial community ecological health (using Biolog microbialassays) impacts potentials will be determined; 3. Development of a predictive model to assess the vulnerability of drinking water source water supply due to the predicted increased loading of DOC, DON, and heavy metals from MPB impacted and non-impacted catchments; 4. Provide a multidisciplinary research opportunity and financial support for one MS CEE graduate student for two semesters and one undergraduate student at SDSM&T through this grant. Collectively, study results will provide critical management information for forestry, water resources, and water supply and treatment personnel by prioritizing MPB risk and abatement strategies. Drinking water treatment technology considerations and policy development will be important for regional municipalities that use MBP-impaired surface waters as part of their drinking water portfolio.