Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015KY245B

Examinng the impacts of valley fills on stream water quality and amphibian and macroinvertebrate communities in southeastern Kentucky

Institute: Kentucky
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $3,646 Total Non-Federal Funds: $7,297

Principal Investigators: Stephen Richter

Abstract: Mountaintop removal mining results in large amounts of overburden that is deposited into valleys adjacent to mining sites creating what are known as valley fills. Water quality below valley fills can be impaired by high concentrations of metals like magnesium, mercury, potassium, and selenium and elevated levels of specific conductance. Increased sulfate, depressed pH, and sedimentation have also been observed. The specific objective of this research project is to determine the impacts of valley fills on aquatic ecosystems of Appalachia by comparing impacted streams with reference streams in terms of water and habitat quality, and stream salamander and macroinvertebrate communities. Sampling will occur in five reference headwater streams and five headwater streams impacted by valley fills that are geographically paired.