Student Research Projects

The Effect of Storm Water Retention Ponds on Anion Concentrations in the Water of an Urbanized Area

Student Christopher Aneroussos ‘15
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 480: Instrumental Methods of Analysis


As humanity continues its unwavering expansion in size and scope, there is an inevitable and somewhat drastic effect on the natural areas influenced or occupied by mankind. As a result of growth, research to understand mankind’s effect on the environment has become an essential field of study within the scientific community, specifically with regards to research in urbanized areas, where effects on the environment are most direct. The focus of the current study is to establish a baseline of sampling and analysis methods for future research while simultaneously collecting and analyzing preliminary data for the long term goal of increasing storm water pond efficiency through the use of vegetation. Storm water retention ponds act as collection points (or buffer areas) for run-off water, before the water travels to natural water sources such as streams, lakes or oceans. Past research suggests that storm water retentions ponds affect anion concentrations, and therefore water quality in an urbanized area. The anion concentrations present in the runoff water of urbanized areas is largely influenced by human activity. Major anions such as chloride, phosphate and sulfate come from a number of sources including farming activity, pollution emission, natural ecological activities such as excretion and many more. Significant imbalances in the anion concentration can cause a plethora of negative from harmful algal blooms, to dead zones, to ecosystem (resource) distortion. The research being discussed took place over the course of approximately 4 weeks. Water samples were collected from storm water retention ponds located on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan College and were analyzed by ion chromatography to determine anion concentrations. The research was conducted during the winter season in order to limit the effect of biological activity (which is severely reduced in the winter months) and explores sampling methodology, methods of analysis and establishes a baseline for reference as the project continues.