Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Abstract

A wetlands ecosystem is defined as “an area saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency or duration sufficient to support...a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions” (Batzer and Sharitz, 2007). Wetlands serve as biofilters and thus have been used to treat sewage and wastewater, as well as to restore the health of polluted water systems. Solly Walker and Lorinda Palin, owners of a certified natural and biodynamic farm called Avalon Acres located in Broadway, Virginia, constructed a wetland two years ago, using the stream, Cedar Run, that flows through their property. Pollution from agricultural activity in the watershed upstream of Avalon Acres has compromised the health of the ecosystem. Ultimately, Solly and Lorinda would like to restore the health of the stream ecosystem, provide a safe habitat for native plant and animal species, and help to mitigate ecological destruction taking place downstream. The purpose of this project is to assess the impact that the constructed wetlands has had on water and soil quality. Stream water quality data, such as nitrate, phosphate and coliform levels, dissolved oxygen concentration, pH and conductivity, were collected over the course of 11 months. Soil carbon data and results from plant and macroinvertebrate sampling were also used to analyze the influence of the wetlands on the ecosystem. Consistently high levels of nitrates and phosphates were found indicating impairment of the stream. Due to the limited time and scope of the project, and the relatively recent introduction of the wetlands, no definitive conclusions can be made regarding the impact of the wetlands on water and soil quality. However, there were lower levels of pollutants in sites within the wetland area than sites outside of the wetland in the stream, which indicates that the wetland is having an effect. This research project establishes a baseline for further investigation into the impact of the wetlands at Avalon Acres Farm over the coming years.

 
 

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