Poster Title

Changing Conductivity Levels of Waterways in Southern Appalachia: Health Implications, Significance and Solutions

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

KY House District #

33

KY Senate District #

26

Department

Appalachian Studies, Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship

Abstract

It is no secret that Appalachia-both the landscape and its people--face a plethora of social, environmental and economic issues. Many of these issues stem from a long dependence on resource extraction that has polluted and ravaged water ways throughout Eastern Kentucky. One way of measuring water quality in areas of industrialization and resource extraction is conductivity, or the ability for something to hold an electrical current from the presence of hard metals. Over a three-year period from 2006-2008, “The Big Dip” citizen-science water project tested more than 1600 locations in Appalachian Kentucky. In September of 2016, “The Big Dip Redux” event, was organized to resample a portion of those sites as part of the September 11th National Day of Service. The Redux event attracted more than 74 volunteers and 79 total sample sites around the communities of Hazard, Cumberland and Whitesburg Kentucky. The data from the Big Dip and the Big Dip Redux projects are compared to analyze changes in water quality and conductivity in southeastern Kentucky since 2006. ArcGIS tools like cluster analysis and space-time cluster analysis gives a better understanding of the significance of the changes both in a temporal and geographic context. Clusters of increasing and decreasing conductivity over time will be used to analyze possible water-related health implications and solutions for those communities affected the most by poor water quality.

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Changing Conductivity Levels of Waterways in Southern Appalachia: Health Implications, Significance and Solutions

It is no secret that Appalachia-both the landscape and its people--face a plethora of social, environmental and economic issues. Many of these issues stem from a long dependence on resource extraction that has polluted and ravaged water ways throughout Eastern Kentucky. One way of measuring water quality in areas of industrialization and resource extraction is conductivity, or the ability for something to hold an electrical current from the presence of hard metals. Over a three-year period from 2006-2008, “The Big Dip” citizen-science water project tested more than 1600 locations in Appalachian Kentucky. In September of 2016, “The Big Dip Redux” event, was organized to resample a portion of those sites as part of the September 11th National Day of Service. The Redux event attracted more than 74 volunteers and 79 total sample sites around the communities of Hazard, Cumberland and Whitesburg Kentucky. The data from the Big Dip and the Big Dip Redux projects are compared to analyze changes in water quality and conductivity in southeastern Kentucky since 2006. ArcGIS tools like cluster analysis and space-time cluster analysis gives a better understanding of the significance of the changes both in a temporal and geographic context. Clusters of increasing and decreasing conductivity over time will be used to analyze possible water-related health implications and solutions for those communities affected the most by poor water quality.