Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 34-19
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


MONTEVERDE, Stephen, CHOWDHURY, Shafiul, FERNANDEZ, Stephanie and LORENZO, Taylor, Dept. of Geological Sciences, State University of New York, New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561

Like all streams passing through transitions of developed environments, water quality in the Lower Esopus Creek is often at risk of contamination. Analysis of water chemistry was performed over a growing season to evaluate water quality evolution in a selected reach of the drainage basin. The intention was to determine the effectiveness of alternative farming practices applied by the Hudson Valley Farm Hub (HVFH) in Hurley, New York. Water quality variations were observed and contamination from the HVFH was distinguished from the influences of regional land use.

Prior to 2013, the HVFH relied on traditional farming procedures, and, since then, they have implemented new resilient farming techniques such as no tilling, bed scale agriculture, and eco-friendly applications of fertilizers and pesticides. An earlier study on Esopus water quality, prior to the implementation of new methods, included measurements of: pH, Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, Ammonia, Nitrate, Conductivity, and Turbidity. The previously collected data provided a basis toward understanding the current health of the Esopus. Inclusion of a simulated rainfall experiment assessed soil erosion tendencies. Runoff yielded 340 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU) on a tilled green bean parcel compared to 16.3 NTU on an untilled corn parcel, indicating significant reduction of soil erosion. Temporal changes in phosphate and nitrate concentrations were observed between six sampling dates. In an agriculturally dominant landscape, sites of unknown anthropogenic influence were observed having nitrate levels ranging between extreme values of 5.6 mg/L and 13.2 mg/L. Phosphate values ranged between 0.35 mg/L and 2.43 mg/L for these sites. Improved fertilizer application practices were credited to the HVFH, relative to all land use detected within the region. Results for total dissolved solids and several cation and anion species displayed a unique behavior with respect to calcium content. After June, calcium overtook chloride as a dominant contributor to the amount of total dissolved solids measured within the farm hub. This is probably due to chloride returning to background concentration levels as the deicing salt applied earlier got diluted. Additional research in the coming years will be helpful to further support current claims regarding land use.