Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Biosystems Engineering

Advisor

Privette, Dr. Charles V

Committee Member

White , Dr. David L

Committee Member

Sawyer , Dr. Calvin B

Abstract

ABSTRACT
The need to monitor surface water quality has been increasingly recognized in recent years in environmental and natural resource management. The advent of real-time remote monitoring technologies has accelerated and enhanced this process. Field observations of water quality data are able to be conducted and analyzed in ways that were previously unavailable.
The objectives of this research were to deploy and test a real-time remote monitoring system for three small watersheds (Hembree, Dunn, and Rudd Hollows) in the Great Smoky Mountains. The watersheds ranged in size from 12 to 19 ha. Real-time remote monitoring stations were established in three small, forested watersheds downstream from construction of the Foothills Parkway in East Tennessee. Water quality sondes measured and recorded streamflow data during the course of a year for turbidity, pH, conductivity, temperature, and stream depth. Rain gauges were used to collect precipitation data. Baseflow and stormflow data were compared to determine effects of storm events on both undisturbed and disturbed forested watersheds. Equations were generated for the purpose of predicting water quality based on storm characteristics. Water quality data were analyzed to assess impacts of highway construction on first-order streams within these watersheds.
For baseflow conditions within the watersheds, mean turbidity ranged from 11.5 to 56.8 NTU. Mean pH ranged from 6.25 to 7.22, while mean conductivity ranged from 0.032 to 0.151 mS/cm. Mean temperature ranged from 8.53 to 18.34 ¡C. For stormflow conditions, mean turbidity ranged from 77.1 to 285.5 NTU. Stormflow pH, conductivity, and temperature did not significantly differ from baseflow conditions.
Collectively, study of baseflow condition data indicated that Dunn and Rudd were similar in water quality, while Hembree was noticeable different. It was concluded that these differences in water quality between watersheds was due to internal disturbances in Hembree prior to monitoring and, more importantly, before highway construction.
Prediction equations were established describing change in turbidity in terms of precipitation, days since last rainfall, and storm duration. R2 values were highest at Rudd during leaf-on (R2 = 0.80) and Dunn during leaf-off (R2 = 0.81), while lowest values were found at Hembree during leaf-off (R2 = 0.48). Leaf-on had higher R2 values than leaf-off at each site except for Dunn.
Before construction and during construction comparisons for each site revealed that Hembree and Rudd mean turbidity for stormflow both decreased from before construction conditions. Analysis of Dunn water quality data also indicated changes during the timeframe of Hembree and Rudd construction. However, because no construction occurred in Dunn during project duration, it was determined that construction activities did not negatively impact water quality in Hembree and Rudd, and that variations in water quality were due to seasonal effects within these watersheds.

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