Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015AR366B

Optical water quality dynamics during receding flow in five Northwest Arkansas recreational rivers

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $11,440

Principal Investigators: Jefferson Scott, Amie West

Abstract: Understanding the characteristics of recreational rivers in Northwest Arkansas is integral to maintaining ecosystem health, perceived value and appeal, and thus, regional economic significance, and in shaping management strategies. Buffalo, Illinois, Kings, Mulberry Rivers and War Eagle Creek are popular recreational destinations in Northwest Arkansas and include Environmental Protection Agency use designations such as Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive, and Natural and Scenic Waterways. The proposed project seeks to answer the following research questions: • How can the chemical and physical composition of these five rivers be modeled by their relationship to discharge during receding flow conditions? • How is optical water quality affected by variations in physical and chemical composition as flow recedes? • Do the relationships between optical water quality and physical and chemical composition vary between these five Ozark rivers? Chemical parameters, such as chlorophyll-a and nutrient concentrations, and physical parameters, including total suspended solids concentration, color, and turbidity, will be measured at sites on each river throughout the study period. We seek to identify relationships between these values with respect to hysteresis, seasonal, and land use effects. This proposal is a continuation of a previously funded 104B project titled “Visible water quality dynamics over the receding limbs of the hydrograph in five Northwest Arkansas recreational rivers” supported by $6,000 for the period of March 1, 2014 to February 28, 2015. While the previous year’s study has offered a great deal of valuable data, we believe additional data is needed in order fully characterize variation between and within these five rivers. The research of one PhD student will be directly supported by this grant. However, at least two other graduate students and three undergraduates in the Environmental Sciences will be involved in fieldwork and lab analyses, offering them direct experience with the research process. We anticipate publishing the results of this complete study targeting the journal Water Resources Research. Data and results will also be openly shared with interested researchers and organizations involved with recreational rivers in Northwest Arkansas. We intend to seek additional support from other funding sources to further investigate how associations may be drawn between the quantitative environmental indicators used in this proposed study and human perceptions of water quality and recreational use of the resource.