Student Research Projects

The Effects of Vegetated Mats on Nutrient Levels of Stormwater Retention Ponds

Student Hali Goad, '16
Department Earth and Environmental Sciences
Course Earth and Environmental Science 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


Stormwater retention ponds (SWRP) are used to enhance water quality by allowing sediments, nutrients and other pollutants to settle and/or be absorbed by surrounding vegetation. It has been shown that increased vegetation surrounding SWRP increases the efficiency of the pond (Davis, et al. 2003). By deploying floating vegetation mats within the pond, it was hypothesized that the rate of efficiency would increase with the addition of vegetation. To test this hypothesis, samples of runoff and pond input / outputs were collected from four campus stormwater ponds before and after the deployment of floating vegetation mats in one of the ponds. In addition, a small-scale experiment was conducted comparing the performance of vegetation mats versus with different levels of percent surface coverage using eighteen 440-gallon pond simulation tanks. Samples from tanks were collected biweekly and analyzed using ion chromatography to determine the concentrations of phosphate and nitrate as indicators of nutrient concentration. General water quality parameters such as pH, turbidity, temperature and TDS were also monitored. This report will specifically address the results of the mesocosm experiment. Further studies investigating vegetative impact on artificially increased metals and nutrient loads are anticipated.


Recipient of a research grant from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC), summer 2015