Tracking E. coli, Nitrate, and Phosphorous Pollution in an Urban-Rural Watershed

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Date
2019-01-01
Authors
Welk, Colin
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Honors Projects and Posters
University Honors Program

The Honors project is potentially the most valuable component of an Honors education. Typically Honors students choose to do their projects in their area of study, but some will pick a topic of interest unrelated to their major.

The Honors Program requires that the project be presented at a poster presentation event. Poster presentations are held each semester. Most students present during their senior year, but may do so earlier if their honors project has been completed.

This site presents project descriptions and selected posters for Honors projects completed since the Fall 2015 semester.

Department
Ecology, Evolutionary, and Organismal Biology
Abstract

There is an abundance of evidence to suggest that humans have dramatically altered - sometimes permanently - the hydrology of the landscapes that we inhabit. In Iowa, tile drainage, land-cover changes, and urbanization have drastically modified stream and lake processes to suit human needs. This project, part of a larger research effort from the University Translational Research Network (U-TuRN) at Iowa State University, uses the small and rapidly urbanizing watershed of South Worrell Creek to examine human and natural factors controlling water quality with a particular interest in the dynamics of two of Iowa’s most serious surface water contaminants: E. coli and phosphorus. The objective was to learn more about water quality dynamics, engage citizens, and bring together stakeholders and homeowners through the vital resource that connects us all: water. This was achieved through water sampling and testing, the use of GIS mapping and non-point source pollution estimation tools, as well as educational outreach. This study found E. coli concentrations well above state recreational water standards and that pollutants and soil were mobilized by periods of storm runoff from heavy rainfall, posing a threat to the newly constructed public park, the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor, and water quality further downstream.

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