Event Title

Nutrient Concentrations in the North Branch Chicago River, The North Shore Channel, and Below their Confluence

Location

Alumni Hall South

Department

Biology

Abstract

Most watersheds of the Chicago River are labeled as impaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). As of 2018, many rivers have been found to be polluted with high levels of nutrients, which can cause low levels of dissolved oxygen and create harmful conditions for aquatic life. Many rivers have runoff from agriculture and urban areas, while others receive water discharged from wastewater reclamation plants. Our study site was River Park, where we compared the nutrient levels in the North Branch Chicago River (NBCR), the North Shore Channel (NSC) and the river below the confluence. The aim of our study was to determine the differences in nutrient concentrations of these waterbodies. We expected that nutrient concentrations would be higher in the NSC (which is dominated by discharge from the O’Brien wastewater treatment plant) than the water in the NBCR (which drains an urban/suburban watershed). Samples were collected from NBCR and NSC immediately above the confluence as well as below the confluence and analyzed for pH, NH4+, NO3, dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, and conductivity. ANOVA and post hoc tests revealed significant differences between the water samples at all three locations. Samples collected from the NSC upstream of the confluence had the highest levels of nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and the lowest pH levels. These findings suggest that the input from the O'Brien Water Reclamation plant has a measurable influence on the water quality at the confluence. In the future it would be valuable to monitor over longer time periods to observe seasonal variations.

Faculty Sponsor

John Kasmer, Northeastern Illinois University

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May 6th, 9:40 AM

Nutrient Concentrations in the North Branch Chicago River, The North Shore Channel, and Below their Confluence

Alumni Hall South

Most watersheds of the Chicago River are labeled as impaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). As of 2018, many rivers have been found to be polluted with high levels of nutrients, which can cause low levels of dissolved oxygen and create harmful conditions for aquatic life. Many rivers have runoff from agriculture and urban areas, while others receive water discharged from wastewater reclamation plants. Our study site was River Park, where we compared the nutrient levels in the North Branch Chicago River (NBCR), the North Shore Channel (NSC) and the river below the confluence. The aim of our study was to determine the differences in nutrient concentrations of these waterbodies. We expected that nutrient concentrations would be higher in the NSC (which is dominated by discharge from the O’Brien wastewater treatment plant) than the water in the NBCR (which drains an urban/suburban watershed). Samples were collected from NBCR and NSC immediately above the confluence as well as below the confluence and analyzed for pH, NH4+, NO3, dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, and conductivity. ANOVA and post hoc tests revealed significant differences between the water samples at all three locations. Samples collected from the NSC upstream of the confluence had the highest levels of nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and the lowest pH levels. These findings suggest that the input from the O'Brien Water Reclamation plant has a measurable influence on the water quality at the confluence. In the future it would be valuable to monitor over longer time periods to observe seasonal variations.