The Potential impact of riparian buffer zones on sediment and phosphorus loading in two Canandaigua Lake subwatersheds

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Title: The Potential impact of riparian buffer zones on sediment and phosphorus loading in two Canandaigua Lake subwatersheds
Author: George, Valerie
Abstract: Thousands rely on the water of Canandaigua Lake for drinking water, fishing, boating and swimming each year. The Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council (CLWC) was formed with the goal of protecting the high quality of this water source. The CLWC has been monitoring the lake and its tributaries for thirteen years. The lake remains in good condition, but testing has revealed an overall increase in total phosphorus (TP) and total suspended solids (TSS). This study identifies potential TSS and TP sources in the Eelpot Creek subwatershed. This creek has some of the highest concentrations of these pollutants in the entire Canandaigua Lake watershed. The area was compared to the Grimes Creek subwatershed, an adjacent watershed with similar characteristics but some of the lowest pollutant concentrations in the watershed. It was posited that the paucity of riparian forested buffers contributes to higher TSS and TP concentrations in Eelpot. GIS, ground-truthing, and chemical and macroinvertebrate analyses were used to locate potential pollutant hotspots throughout the subwatershed. Results showed no significant difference in macroinvertebrate community composition, except EPT richness, between the two subwatersheds or among sites. The results did demonstrate slight impact at some Eelpot sites, and one Grimes sampling site. GIS and ground-truthing revealed several areas of concern that appear to support the macroinvertebrate results. Cultivation appears to be a probable factor contributing to pollution in Eelpot, as well as heavy stream bank erosion found along some branches. Preliminary stormwater results appear to also support these conclusions, however there were too few samples to statistically analyze the results. The results of this study support the belief that much of the TSS and TP in Eelpot Creek stems from unbuffered cultivated land and/or stream bank erosion. It is therefore recommended that forested buffers be strongly considered in protecting this valuable water source.
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Date: 2009-11-03

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