Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019AR010B

Assessing Water Quality and Biological Impacts of Nonpoint Source Pollution in the Eleven Point and Lower Black River Watersheds

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $21,223 Total Non-Federal Funds: $43,129

Principal Investigators: Allyn Dodd

Abstract: Poultry and livestock agriculture continue to expand in Northeast Arkansas, increasing the potential for nutrient enrichment and ecological degradation in critical waterways in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Specifically, the Eleven Point River and Lower Black River drainages have been identified as Ecologically Sensitive Waterbodies and provide habitat for several endangered and imperiled species. However, there is currently no plan for spatially and/or temporally detailed monitoring water quality and invertebrate biological metrics in these watersheds despite rapid development of new poultry operations and processing facilities. Currently, nutrient testing takes place on only a biennial bases in few locations throughout both watersheds, likely missing acute enrichment events; periphyton and macroinvertebrate sampling are even rarer. Current water quality and macroinvertebrate data are needed as animal agriculture exerts increased on stream communities. Additionally, monitoring is needed to provide characterize seasonal variation in water quality for comparison of future nutrient levels in years to come. This project will provide a spatially and temporally detailed evaluation of water quality, periphyton abundance, presence of algal toxins, dominant water sources, and invertebrate community structure and physiology in the Eleven Point River and Lower Black River watersheds in Randolph, Sharp, Lawrence, and Independence counties in Northeast Arkansas. We will identify tributaries and portions of the main stems in need of enhanced, focused nonpoint source pollution mitigation in twelve streams and rivers couched within a gradient of animal agricultural land use (e.g. low to high density of poultry and/or livestock operations) by collecting triplicate filtered as well as triplicate unfiltered water samples from June 2019 to February 2020 to measure total and dissolved nutrients and sediments as well as to qualitatively identify dominant water sources. In situ habitat and water quality measurements will also be taken monthly from June 2019 to February 2020. Macroinvertebrates will be sampled in June 2019 for evaluation of community structure and histological analysis of pollution impacts on physiology. Algal microcystin in water samples will be measured in July and August 2019. This project will identify areas in need of mitigation measures to address nonpoint source pollution in two ecologically sensitive and important waterways in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.