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2018-2020 Research Projects: Sustainable Coastal Development and Economy

Project: Relating Nonpoint Source BOD Loading to Land-Use and Stormwater Management Practices in Coastal South Carolina

Principal Investigators

Erik Smith, University of South Carolina Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences

Project Number

R/CG-03

Research Description

The presence of a sufficient minimum concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO) is a fundamental requirement necessary to sustain aquatic life in coastal waters. This aquatic life encompasses and provides for a great variety of the natural resources that coastal communities need to sustain their economies and quality of life. Preventing the occurrence of low DO, including determine the factors that contribute to low DO, remains a challenge for water quality management, however. The occurrence of low DO is the number one cause of impairment with respect to the ability of waters to support aquatic life use in South Carolina’s coastal zone, representing 48% of all Section §303(d) listings for Aquatic Life Use impairment in the eight coastal counties. Maintaining sufficient DO in the state’s coastal waters requires managing anthropogenic discharges of oxygen demanding substances. The operational measure of oxygen demanding substances is the determination of five-day Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5). To date there is little locally relevant empirical evidence to help support selection of appropriate conversation factors for nonpoint source BOD5.

The overall goal of the proposed research is to provide quantitative estimates of nonpoint source BOD as a function of land-use and stormwater management practices to inform improved stormwater management and TMDL development for coastal waters impacted by low dissolved oxygen. To meet this goal, the PI proposes the following objectives: (1) Conduct a review of existing available BOD5 data collected by to inform a collaborative site selection and sampling strategy; (2) Quantify BOD5 in surface water samples originating from first-order catchments that span the range of natural to highly developed (as defined by land cover, degree of development density, and % impervious cover) and from the outfalls of common stormwater management conveyances and best management practices (e.g., ponds, constructed wetlands, etc.); (3) Resolve time-course degradation kinetics during BOD incubations so as to define the relationship between BOD5 measures and Ultimate Oxygen Demand (BODu) for key terrestrial source waters; and (4) Incorporate research findings into technical recommendations for considering the role of land use and stormwater management practices on BOD5 loading to coastal receiving waters and disseminate to state agencies, county and municipal stormwater managers, and the broader scientific community.

Contact for Questions

Dr. Erik Smith (erik@belle.baruch.sc.edu)