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Student Research Projects

The Effect of Vegetated Mats on Nitrate and Phosphate Levels in Stormwater Retention Ponds

Student Jennifer Parker, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


This project was focused on evaluating how increased vegetation may impact the efficiency of stormwater retention ponds (SWRP) in the removal of nutrient inputs from runoff. This experiment used a set of 440-gallon tanks to simulate SWRP and used floating vegetated mats to increase the vegetation. The purpose of this project is to see if the vegetated mats can increase the rate of nutrient removal from the tanks over control tanks with no added vegetation. In urban areas, scientists have shown evidence of vegetation decreasing the levels of nutrient inputs runoff. To perform this experiment 12 simulation tanks were used, 6 tanks (half containing no vegetation) were spiked with nitrate and phosphate and 6 identical tanks were not spiked. The tanks were spiked weekly, with samples collected before and after addition of the spikes. The concentrations of phosphate and nitrate in the tanks were monitoring using ion chromatography. It is anticipated that the tanks containing added vegetation will have lower concentrations of phosphate and sulfate than the control tanks with no vegetation. The results of this study may suggest that increasing the vegetation in and around SWRP may improve this ability to absorb nutrient loads and better protect natural water systems and groundwater from urban runoff.