Stream and Watershed Research

TRACING SEPTIC SYSTEMS

Non-point source nitrogen is a large source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and other coastal estuaries worldwide but is difficult to prevent and control because of the difficulty with identifying sources.  The Harris lab is working to identify a way to separate Nitrogen from septic systems of different types from other non point source Nitrogen. 

The chemical signature of septic system runoff is much different than the signature from natural streams as all of the chemicals that pass through the body (like caffeine from coffee) or wash down the drain (like cleansers or hair products) end up passing through the septic system and many eventually enter nearby streams.  

Read the NPR story about this project

Project Update 

JAMAICA BAY

    The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has recently upgraded wastewater treatment plants surrounding Jamaica Bay of Long Island, New York. We are working with the NYCDEP to monitor the  long-term effects on water quality due to the improvements of these plants. Specifically, the Harris Lab is examining the effects on   phytoplankton activity. Cruises and experiments will look at:

  • Water column photosynthesis
  • Water column respiration
  • Chlorophyll concentration
  • Water clarity