Water Chemistry of Furman Lake Streams

Grace Flowers, Matt Medlin, Anna Leff, and Matt Aussprung

We studied the chemical and physical properties of streams that feed into Furman Lake. The River Basins Research Imitative (RBRI) has dedicated itself to accumulating data on the chemistry streams to observe the differences between rural and urban streams. Our group was able to add our samples to years’ worth of data for comparison, and postulate how the stream chemistry affects Furman Lake. We hypothesize that the more urbanized North Village inlet stream would have a higher concentration of ions than the rural, forested inlet stream due to human impact.
Streams contain ions such as nitrate, phosphate, and chlorine. These ions are present for various reasons. Typically, ion concentrations are higher in urban areas than in rural areas, but there are natural sources of these ions. Ammonium is the product of decaying organic matter. It is nitrified to form nitrate and then denitrified to form nitrite and nitrous oxide gas (Clinton 2006). Ammonium, nitrate, and nitrite, as well as phosphorus, can all stimulate algal growth and eutrophication (Anderson 2002). Nixon (1995) defined eutrophication as “an increase in the rate of supply of organic matter to an ecosystem.” Eutrophication is a major concern in aquatic ecosystems with increased human impact. Nitrate levels were higher in the urban stream than the rural one (Table 1), consistent with the greater human activity. Nitrite and phosphate levels for all samples were very low or below detection in both locations. Ammonium concentrations, however, showed no significant differences between the streams. Contrary to our hypothesis, chlorine, sulfate and bromine concentrations were significantly higher in the rural stream; however, these could be from a mineral spring feeding into the rural stream. Because of the higher ion concentrations in the rural stream, conductivity was also higher in this location. Phosphate levels were almost always below detection in the two streams, so we were unable to determine if there were any significant differences between the two locations. In conclusion, the two streams differed significantly in their ion profiles, suggesting that different natural and anthropogenic factors may be influencing each stream.


Table 1. Physical and chemical properties of stream water from urban and rural sites in the Furman inlet streams.

Variable Forested Stream Suburban Stream Statistically Significant Results
Dissolved O2 7.67±0.21 7.33±0.26  
Conductivity (uS/cm) 113.02±7.41 56.65±1.87 U=91,df=1, p<0.0001
Turbidity (NTU) 2.62±0.98 6.89±1.48 U=197, df=1, p<0.05
pH 6.35±0.08 6.27±0.11  
F- 0.054±0.009 0.061±0.012  
Cl- 5.07±0.26 2.73±0.05 t=-8.84, df=13, p<0.0001
Br- 0.35±0.08 0.046±0.004 U=131, df=1, p<0.05
NO3- 0.90±0.07 1.99±0.05 t=12.48, df=21, p<0.0001
SO4-2 25.44±1.98 0.85±0.08 U=66, df=1, p<0.0001

Literature Cited
Anderson DM, Glibert PM, Burkholder JM. 2002. Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication: nutrient
sources, compostion, and consequences. Estuaries. 25:704-726.

Clinton BD, Vose JM. 2006. Variation in stream water quality in an urban headwater stream in the
southern Appalachians. Water Air Soil Pollut. 169:331-353.

Nixon SW. 1995. Coastal marine eutrophication: a definition, social causes, and future concerns.
Ophelia. 41:199-219.

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