Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016SC103B

The Influence of Poultry Rearing Facilities on Nutrient Concentrations, Fecal Indicator Bacteria, and Stream Fish in the Upper Savannah River Basin

Institute: South Carolina
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-05-01 End Date: 2017-05-01
Total Federal Funds: $28,680 Total Non-Federal Funds: $58,093

Principal Investigators: Gregory Lewis, Dennis Haney, Peter Van Den Hurk, MinKen Liao

Abstract: Poultry production is an important component of South Carolinas agriculture, yet its impacts (if any) on water quality and biological communities in streams and rivers in the state are currently unknown. However, previous studies have documented negative impacts of poultry production on streams and rivers in other regions of the United States and in other countries. These impacts include nutrient enrichment, bacterial contamination (including antibiotic-resistant bacteria), and loss of biological diversity of stream organisms. In the South Carolina Piedmont, poultry production (primarily broiler production) is concentrated in Oconee and Anderson Counties in drainages within the Upper Savannah Basin. The Savannah River and its tributaries are sources of municipal water and offer important economic and recreational benefits for local communities. Therefore, it is important to understand potential impacts of agriculture (in this case poultry production) on these water resources. We propose to conduct an integrative, multidisciplinary examination of the influence of poultry production on water quality and biological communities in Piedmont streams within the upper Savannah River Basin of South Carolina during summer 2016. In particular, we propose to collect water samples for physicochemical (including nutrient) and bacterial measurements from ~30 locations downstream from poultry rearing facilities in Anderson and Oconee Counties. As part of this sampling plan, we will sample streams at varying distances from the poultry houses and collect samples from streams with varying densities of poultry houses in their drainage areas. At ~ 20 of these locations, we will also collect fish for diversity and health (biomarker) analyses. An additional important goal of the project is to provide research training for students. Furman University has committed support for two undergraduate students to this project, and additional undergraduate and high school students may be involved through the universitys outreach programs. A graduate (masters) student at Clemson University will also participate in the study. There is also potential for Clemson undergraduates to participate. In all cases, students will be involved closely in the process of experimental design, field sampling, and laboratory analyses. Students will also assist in data analyses and will give presentations at regional or national scientific conferences. Finally, we will actively relay our findings both to state environmental management agencies and to local public interest groups (such as local conservation organizations)