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Nitrate, Phosphate, and Ammonia Nutrient Concentrations in Surface Water and Groundwater, Measured in the Lake Beresford Watershed, Volusia County, Florida

Authors: Viet Tran*, Stetson University, William Tandy Grubbs, Stetson University
Topics: Environmental Science, Water Resources and Hydrology, Field Methods
Keywords: Algae bloom, water analysis, nutrient loading, chemistry
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Algae bloom occurrences have grown in frequency throughout Florida’s aquatic systems over the last decade, resulting in devastating impacts on both freshwater and marine wildlife and causing respiratory problems among residents and tourists. Environmentalist point toward high nutrient loading from agricultural and residential septic runoff, as well as rising water temperatures from climate change, as possible contributors to this ongoing problem. In an attempt to characterize and better understand nutrient levels and loading within a representative segment of our Florida freshwater system, Stetson University has undertaken a preliminary study within the Lake Beresford Watershed, Volusia County, Florida consisting of a series of 14 established ground water collection wells (with groundwater accessible only 4-6 feet underground), a centrally located retention pond, and an adjacent portion of Lake Beresford. The monitoring area is surrounded on three sides by an expanding residential neighborhood that utilizes shallow septic systems. The entire watershed eventually flows into the St. Johns River. An automated spectrophotometric ‘discrete analyzer’ has been utilized to measure nitrate, phosphate, and ammonia levels in water samples collected over several months. Nutrient concentration levels will be presented along with a discussion of the chemistry behind the EPA-based discrete analyzer test methods, including but not limited to nitrate, phosphate, and ammonia. The advantages of employing automated ‘robotic’ microanalyzers over traditional benchtop analytical test methods, which include reduction in resource consumption, increases in accuracy and precision, and the ability to carry out analyses in bulk, will be discussed.

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