Clarkson Research Group Publishes Paper on Land Use Influence on Water Quality

April 13, 2006

Clarkson University professors Michael R. Twiss, Tom A. Langen and Jan Wojcik have announced that a group of researchers from the University led by the team of professors has published a paper titled “Land Use Influence on Water Quality in the St. Regis River, a Waterway Flowing from the Adirondacks to the St. Lawrence River,” in the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies. The research group consists of graduated Clarkson students Matthew G. Giroux, Sonia M. Johns, Neal E. Liddle, Andrew R. Snyder and David P. Zeleznock.

The paper describes the influence of watershed land-use on water quality in the St. Regis River. In conducting the study, water and land samples were taken along the river in October 2003 and April 2004, periods that coincide with low and high-flow periods, respectively. These samples were analyzed and showed results that indicated that the further downstream one went from the river’s headwaters, the more contaminated the river became with bacteria and enriched with nutrients such as phosphate and nitrate. The researchers concluded that the bacteria were likely accidentally introduced by fecal matter from nearby farming operations or from the ineffective treatment of human waste from residences within the watershed area.

“The study is an excellent example of how human influence can have a negative impact on the changing environment. The results also demonstrate the importance of forest cover for good river quality,” Twiss said. “Through our research, we show the importance of responsible land management and the significant impact it has on local water quality, in this case, the St. Regis River, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River.”

The research was funded by a grant from the Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC) to Jan Wojcik. The GLRC is leading the development of a network of integrated academic research facilities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Source: Clarkson University