JCSET | Watershed Studies Institute Research Symposium

Title

Nitrogen Removal from Flood Waters by West Kentucky WRP Easements

Presenter Information

Tyler BefusFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Biology/Watershed Science

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Michael Flinn, PhD; Karen Baumann

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract/Description

Wetlands can help prevent nitrogen-rich runoff from reaching the Gulf of Mexico via denitrification. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has been restoring wetlands as part of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and has been active in western Kentucky. To determine the effectiveness of these restorations to reduce nitrate delivery to streams and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico, we are collecting monthly grab samples at our four primary riparian sites to track seasonal variations in nitrate concentrations in the wetlands and adjacent streams. These data will also be used to model other comparable wetland sites across Kentucky and Tennessee. We also use YSI EXO Sondes and NitraLED sensors to capture nitrate concentrations during baseflow and flooding events in the study wetlands. These concentration readings are being used to determine inflow and outflow nitrate concentrations to create a nitrogen budget for each site. Additionally, we are quantifying hydrology to help understand nutrient loads at different flood scales. Preliminary results show nitrate concentrations increase 100-200% between the upstream and downstream sites as well as elevated concentrations across all sites during the winter months when precipitation and flooding are more frequent. Within the wetlands, nitrate concentrations closely correspond with hydrology suggesting connectivity between streams and adjacent wetlands is essential to water processing and nitrate reductions through denitrification. Preliminary results show wetlands reduce nitrate by as much as 85% within 24-hours after a flooding event occurs. Understanding nitrogen dynamics in these sites will help direct future restoration efforts and identify limitations focused on nutrient reduction.

Spring Scholars Week 2022 Event

Watershed Studies Institute Symposium

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Nitrogen Removal from Flood Waters by West Kentucky WRP Easements

Wetlands can help prevent nitrogen-rich runoff from reaching the Gulf of Mexico via denitrification. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has been restoring wetlands as part of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and has been active in western Kentucky. To determine the effectiveness of these restorations to reduce nitrate delivery to streams and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico, we are collecting monthly grab samples at our four primary riparian sites to track seasonal variations in nitrate concentrations in the wetlands and adjacent streams. These data will also be used to model other comparable wetland sites across Kentucky and Tennessee. We also use YSI EXO Sondes and NitraLED sensors to capture nitrate concentrations during baseflow and flooding events in the study wetlands. These concentration readings are being used to determine inflow and outflow nitrate concentrations to create a nitrogen budget for each site. Additionally, we are quantifying hydrology to help understand nutrient loads at different flood scales. Preliminary results show nitrate concentrations increase 100-200% between the upstream and downstream sites as well as elevated concentrations across all sites during the winter months when precipitation and flooding are more frequent. Within the wetlands, nitrate concentrations closely correspond with hydrology suggesting connectivity between streams and adjacent wetlands is essential to water processing and nitrate reductions through denitrification. Preliminary results show wetlands reduce nitrate by as much as 85% within 24-hours after a flooding event occurs. Understanding nitrogen dynamics in these sites will help direct future restoration efforts and identify limitations focused on nutrient reduction.