Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Mapping Water Quality in Coal Country: The GIS Watershed Delineation Project

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Since 2006, the Eastern Kentucky Environmental Research Institute has conducted a widespread water sampling project throughout the three major watersheds that drain Kentucky’s Appalachian coalfields: The Kentucky, the Big Sandy, and the Upper Cumberland. Over the course of four summers, more than 60 trained students and volunteers tested 648 water sites for water temperature, pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrites, nitrates, iron, and dissolved oxygen. Flow and turbulence observations were also made. Each site was also geolocated with a GPS unit. In the summer of 2010, a GIS analysis was initiated. Using the Arc Hydro program within ArcMap the land area from each individual water sample point was mapped. These delineations show the area of land that water from a specific point runs off and drains into. Because sampling sites did not necessarily correspond with watershed outflow points, the drainage of each site had to be delineated one at a time for all 1,648 sites. The result is a detailed map identifying each sampling point and the land area upstream that it drains—including any sites that are “nested” or within the drainage area of another site. The presentation will include a detailed overview of the delineation methodology, and the resulting map. In the future, the delineated watersheds will be used to relate the water quality observations of each site with the composition of the upstream land use (e.g., mined, reclaimed, residential forested; agriculture) to determine the degree to which certain water parameters are affected by land use throughout Appalachian Kentucky.

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Mapping Water Quality in Coal Country: The GIS Watershed Delineation Project

Since 2006, the Eastern Kentucky Environmental Research Institute has conducted a widespread water sampling project throughout the three major watersheds that drain Kentucky’s Appalachian coalfields: The Kentucky, the Big Sandy, and the Upper Cumberland. Over the course of four summers, more than 60 trained students and volunteers tested 648 water sites for water temperature, pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrites, nitrates, iron, and dissolved oxygen. Flow and turbulence observations were also made. Each site was also geolocated with a GPS unit. In the summer of 2010, a GIS analysis was initiated. Using the Arc Hydro program within ArcMap the land area from each individual water sample point was mapped. These delineations show the area of land that water from a specific point runs off and drains into. Because sampling sites did not necessarily correspond with watershed outflow points, the drainage of each site had to be delineated one at a time for all 1,648 sites. The result is a detailed map identifying each sampling point and the land area upstream that it drains—including any sites that are “nested” or within the drainage area of another site. The presentation will include a detailed overview of the delineation methodology, and the resulting map. In the future, the delineated watersheds will be used to relate the water quality observations of each site with the composition of the upstream land use (e.g., mined, reclaimed, residential forested; agriculture) to determine the degree to which certain water parameters are affected by land use throughout Appalachian Kentucky.