Students in this semester’s Watershed Sciences capstone course are conducting an extensive water quality study of the Duck River in central Tennessee. Water samples were taken (photo, right) along the entire 284-mile length of the river, which is known to be one of the most biologically diverse in North America. The samples were analyzed for 67 metals and for the bacteria E. coli. (Photo, below: Water samples being analyzed in the lab for the presence of E. coli )
The class will determine whether the four major municipalities along the Duck are contributing pollutants to the river. More than 250,000 people rely on the river as their sole source of drinking water. Comparisons to the water quality of streams atop the Cumberland Plateau will also be made. This is the first time extensive sampling for metals has been conducted along the river. The study is being led by Dr. Martin Knoll of the Forestry and Geology Department and Dr. Emily White of the Chemistry Department.