Water quality is an increasingly important issue in coastal Georgia and one that we have made a priority at The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service. It is our goal to monitor water quality on each of Georgia's five major coastal rivers and make the data available through workshops and other programs to the public and those who make decisions concerning the rivers and streams in Georgia.
In February 2000, we began monitoring water quality on the Satilla River. Using field instruments, we measured dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, salinity, temperature, pH and turbidity at seven stations. In addition, we brought water samples to our lab where we tested for total and fecal coliform bacteria, carbon and nitrogen, biological oxygen demand, total suspended solids, ATP, and nutrients, such as ammonia, nitrate+nitrite, and phosphorous. We recorded these parameters at low tide and at high tide each month and provided the data to Dr. Changsheng Chen, now with the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth , who created a predictive computer model of the river. This tool will be valuable in projecting future impacts that population growth and other factors will have on the river.
Our monitoring efforts shifted to the Ogeechee River in February 2001. We selected five stations on this river. All five stations were monitored once monthly at low tide. Additionally, stations 1, 3, and 5 were monitored every other month at high tide. A continuous monitoring device was placed in the Ogeechee River at station 3. Several current meters (one each at stations 1, 3, and 5) were deployed in the Ogeechee River for a period of two months. The Marine Extension Service collaborated with the Skidaway Institute on this effort and several other current meters were deployed in the Little Ogeechee River during the same time. This information was also provided to Dr. Chen for model development.
The Altamaha River was the third river in the series to be investigated. This complex system was studied for three years. Physical, chemical and biological monitoring began in April 2002 and continued through March 2003 for Phase I. Five sampling locations were chosen on the Altamaha River from the mouth between Egg and Wolf Islands , to Two-Way Fish Camp Marina. Stage II of the Altamaha River project began in June 2003 and was designed to assess the exchange of salt and fresh water between the river and its associated sound systems. Two stations were carried over from year one and three new stations were added along the Mackay River . Monitoring for Phase II continued through May 2004. Altamaha River Phase III efforts began in August 2004. A Troll 9000® Multi-parameter instrument (Intermountain Environmental, Inc.) was trawled slowly behind the research vessel recording pH, temperature, salinity, pressure, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen in 2-minute intervals.
We would like to invite individuals to help implement a Satilla Riverkeeper organization and/or an Adopt-a-Stream group on the Satilla River. If you are interested or have further questions about our water quality program, you can contact Katy Austin Smith at the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service, 715 Bay Street, Brunswick, GA, 31520; phone, (912) 262-3338; fax, (912) 264-7312; or email, email@example.com
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