TESTING FOR METALS WITHIN THE SOIL AND THE WATER ALONG THE BUFFALO RIVER
The Buffalo River was designated an EPA Area of Concern in 1987. With a 1,160 square kilometer drainage basin, the river flows through both residential and industrial areas before it empties into Lake Erie. In 2011, the Buffalo River Restoration Project began, starting with dredging contaminated sediment. By removing this sediment habitats along the river can be restored. The goal of this research project is to investigate the progress made by the restoration projects and to identify areas where additional work is still required. Nine sampling stations were identified along the Buffalo River and two of its tributaries, Cazenovia Creek and Buffalo Creek, based on accessibility. At each of these stations two rounds of field water quality tests, including temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen level, were performed using a YSI meter, and water samples were collected for laboratory testing. Hanna Checker colorimeters were used to determine phosphate, iron, chromium, nickel, and nitrate levels. In addition, field tests were performed on the pH of the soil using a digital pH tester, and soil cores were collected for laboratory testing. The soil cores were air dried for a minimum of 48 hours, sectioned, disaggregated and sieved. The prepared soil samples were then analyzed using a Niton XL3t handheld x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) to determine heavy metal element load.
Thus far, it has been determined that soil in neighborhoods contained relatively lower levels of heavy metal contamination as compared to soil collected from along the industrial stretches of the waterway. Lower levels of nickel and chromium in comparable water samples reinforced these findings. Future data collection will continue to monitor the amount of contamination at each station and to potentially isolate contaminant sources.