291964 Sediment Fingerprinting in the Lake Macatawa Watershed

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Evelyn Ritter, Daniel J. Callam and Graham F. Peaslee, Chemistry, Hope College, Holland, MI

Lake Macatawa in Western Michigan suffers from poor water quality due to high levels of non-point source pollution and elevated phosphorus levels. This problem stems from historical land use changes and hydrology alterations in the region. For the past two years quantitative measurements of the suspended sediment load from 46 locations throughout the watershed have allowed for better estimates of annual loads within the Macatawa watershed.  The mass of the sediment from each catchment site after each event was combined with hydrological measurements to calculate total sediment loads from each sub-watershed.  The sediment collected from each site was further analyzed for elemental composition, color, pollen content and phosphate type using Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE), Reflective Light Microscopy (RLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and an AutoAnalyzer (AA). The elemental, color, and pollen content data were analyzed using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to find specific sites with distinct characteristics and to compare measurements at river intersections as an alternative method of finding sediment load at specific junctions. The development of these sediment fingerprinting techniques as well as the sediment loading calculations are used to identify which parts of the watershed are contributing the most sediment loading and these results will aid in focusing efforts and funding to improve the water quality of Lake Macatawa.

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