Water Quality Challenges in Groundwater Influenced Streams

May 20, 2020

Presented By Dr. Ashley Helton, UConn Department of Natural Resources and the Environment

Groundwater discharge zones along river networks sustain water flow and provide thermal refugia for aquatic organisms while also acting as conduits of legacy contaminants, including nitrogen. Efforts to protect and manage groundwater-influenced stream ecosystems, however, are limited by our ability to characterize and predict both the spatial distribution groundwater discharges and their influence on water quality along river corridors. Here I will provide an overview of our ongoing efforts to map, characterize, and predict where groundwater seeps occur using a combination of thermal infrared imagery, high resolution geospatial datasets, and groundwater modeling, focused on the Farmington River watershed in Connecticut. I will discuss the challenges for understanding how legacy nitrogen contamination in groundwater may influence water quality of stream and rivers, and our initial efforts to measure water quality of groundwater discharge zones throughout the Farmington River watershed.

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