Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

Department

Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Caitlin S. Dyckman J.D., Ph.D., Committee Chair

Committee Member

Cindy M. Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chris S. McMahan, Ph.D.

Abstract

Pathogenic impairments are widespread across the United States and the source of the pollutant is both complicated and often elusive. The boundary of Greenville County, South Carolina crosses four Hydrologic Unit Code 8 watershed designations, and within those, there are over one hundred approved Total Maximum Daily Loads related to fecal indicator bacteria. This region is experiencing rapid growth and development; consequently, it is critical for planners to better understand the nexus between land use choices and water quality impacts, as zoning, ordinance decisions, and comprehensive plans can affect this relationship. The goal of this research was to correlate urbanized land cover from the National Land Cover Database and land uses by examining impervious surface types with E. coli levels in Greenville County and from those results, provide insight for land use planning policy. I hypothesized that there was a relationship between land cover typology and impervious land uses with E. coli, which could generate land management policy adjustments. The null hypothesis was that no correlation could be determined between land cover or land use and E. coli levels in Greenville County. The analysis revealed the following results, rejecting the null hypothesis. First, both developed land cover and land use types lead to increases in E. coli levels. Second, the presence of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and agricultural fecal spreading permits lead to decreases in E. coli. Third, and most importantly, knowledge of the sampling condition, specifically wet weather, is highly correlated to E. coli levels and leads to significant increases in measured E. coli. This third observation indicates that land use, the presence of sewer overflows, failing septic tanks, the resuspension of bottom sediment living E. coli, or a combination of these appears to elevate E. coli levels. Despite the presence of this relationship, the resulting adjusted coefficients of determination (R2) from both multi linear regression analysis (0.41-0.42) and factor analysis (0.21) suggest that there are sources of E. coli for which this study does not account. Accordingly, it will be essential to conduct additional research that examines the relationship between more accurately-specified land use types and E. coli levels. Also, there is a need to understand the nuances of the relationship between wet weather sampling conditions and E. coli presence and concentration fluctuation. Regardless of the remaining gaps, this research reinforces the imperative involvement of planners in conversations about water quality within their jurisdictions. The consequences of land use policy making are evident in water quality, and planners should be cognizant of water quality consequences as they accommodate and plan for future urban growth.

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