Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NC174B

Effects of Extreme Flooding on Water Quality in Areas of Dense Food Animal Production

Institute: North Carolina
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,068 Total Non-Federal Funds: $77,657

Principal Investigators: Jill Stewart

Abstract: Storm events are expected to increase with climate change, with the potential to adversely impact environmental quality and public health. Extreme flooding associated with storms including the recent flooding from Hurricane Florence often causes loading of contaminants to water resources. Using a One Health framework that recognizes that human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked, this study will assess impacts of Hurricane Florence on water quality in areas of dense food animal production. We aim to (1) measure microbial water quality at sites proximal to hog confined animal feeding operations and control sites, (2) compare levels of environmental antimicrobial resistance (environmental AMR) at study sites, and (3) model spatial distributions of contaminants and associated environmental hazards in areas of dense food animal production. This research will include analysis of samples collected both before and after Hurricane Florence so that we can evaluate hurricane-related impacts. Our analysis will include innovative assessments of environmental AMR, as well as the development of spatial-temporal models to help identify factors important or protective to the spread of contaminants. These models will also provide valuable insight into appropriate methods for modeling exposure to industrial hazards more generally and can help inform emergency management protocols. Project results will help clarify the effects of extreme flooding on environmental contaminant transport and can inform strategies for waste management, antibiotic use, and one health surveillance. Ultimately, this work will lead to more resilient agricultural systems and communities better prepared to weather the storms that frequent the North Carolina coast.