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Volume 3, Issue 1 Winter 2010

Watershed Assessment and Education

Maifan Silitonga, Alcorn State University

The Coles Creek Watershed, located in the southwestern quadrant of the state of Mississippi, is in the EPA Section §303(d) list of impaired waters. Degradation of the ponds/lakes and streams/creeks in this watershed is caused mostly by biological impairment, followed by nutrients, organic enrichment or low dissolved oxygen, sediment/siltation, pesticides, and pathogens. These impairments cause the degradation of water quality thus causing euthrophication or algal blooms that can lead to fish kills and can also adversely affect human health.

Water and soil samples from these ponds have been collected and are being analyzed for nutrient contents, and physical and biological parameters. The analysis will allow scientists to determine the best alternative management practices to be adopted and implemented in the community. Based on the results and findings, educational materials will be developed and disseminated to the communities. This effort will help increase the community awareness of their environment and encourage them to adopt and implement best management practices on their land which will lead to promoting environmental health and its sustainability. In addition, information will be posted on the Mississippi River Research Center's web site for accessibility and continuous support and assistance to the public.


Dr.George Hopper

We had a wonderful Water Resources Conference in Tunica this past August. This was the first time for the Mississippi Water Resources Conference to team with the Mississippi Water Resources Association, and the turnout was great. I hope those of you attending found it to be educational and were able to meet with others engaged in water-related issues. The comments we received were positive. Thanks to those who submitted post-conference evaluations. We are currently planning the 2010 conference and incorporating many of your comments and suggestions. Any ideas or suggestions that you may have regarding keynote speakers, session categories, or workshops would be appreciated.

Mark your calendars for the 2010 Mississippi Water Conference planned for November 3-5, 2010 in Bay St. Louis.

Dean's Signature


USGS Projects

Multi-scale Evaluation and Analysis of Precipitation Patterns Over the Mississippi Delta

Jamie Dyer, Mississippi State University

The Mississippi River floodplain in northwestern Mississippi, often referred to as the Mississippi Delta, is extremely important for regional economic stability and growth due to the widespread agriculture in the area. The region is unique in that there are currently three sources of precipitation measurements available: radar-derived precipitation estimates from the National Weather Service (NWS) NEXRAD network, surface observations from the NWS recording stations, and surface observations from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) recording stations. In terms of water resource management and climatological precipitation research, quantitatively defining the biases associated with available precipitation data sources is critical in choosing which source to use for a given application. Additionally, due to the importance of precipitation in agriculture along with recent drought conditions in the Mississippi Delta region, precipitation patterns should be re-evaluated in terms of duration frequency and extent. The inclusion of long-term data from surface gages along with shorter-term but higher resolution radar-derived rainfall estimates allow for a detailed analysis of past and current precipitation trends. This will lead to a better understanding of rainfall trends and patterns and potentially better prediction of future rainfall. Dr. Dyer is currently in the process of data preparation and analysis for the second phase of this research project. This includes studying the patterns and trends of precipitation in the Mississippi Delta based on multi-sensor estimates.

Natural Enhanced Transport of Agricultural Pb and As Through Riparian Wetlands

Gregg Davidson, University of Mississippi

Gregg DavidsonDr. Davidson has completed the data collection and analysis from Sky Lake and Hampton Lake—two oxbow lakes in north Mississippi. Results indicate that the transport of trace elements through and between wetland and open water environments is complex and will vary with specific hydrology and adjacent land use of each lake-wetland system. The majority of elements investigated and observed in open-water sediments were not found in contemporaneous wetland sediments. Sky Lake saw a large lead spike in two separate open-water cores that was absent in the wetland cores. Elevated arsenic and cobolt concentrations in the open-water cores are also absent in wetland cores which suggests that trace elements initially scavenged by the wetlands surrounding Sky Lake are later remobilized and eventually flushed into the open-water environment where permanent sequestration takes place. Because it is a growth-limiting nutrient, phosphorous behaves differently than trace metals. In the wetland, phosphorus concentrations in the sediments are low because it is quickly taken up into plant tissue. The high concentrations of phosphorus found in open water sediments may be a result from outwashed organic material that is buried in the lake. As the material decays and releases phosphorus, there are no active plant roots to remove it; therefore, high concentrations remain preserved in the sediment record. All of the Hampton Lake results were consistent with Sky Lake results. Lead and aresenic concentrations measured in the wetland cores are equal to or higher than the concentrations in the open water cores. There is no mechanism known to explain these results. The variability observed in the Hampton Lake cores relative to Sky Lake leads to expand the study to include more lakes. Preliminary data collected has already been obtained from two other lakes: Lake Washington and Beasley Lake. Open-water results have been completed. Wetland results, when completed, will assist in determining if this is "typical" behavior of trace metals in lake-wetland systems.

Monitoring and Modeling Water Pollution in Mississippi Lakes

Cristine Surbeck, University of Mississippi

Dr. Surbeck is determining the die-off rates of total coliform and Escherichia coli bacteria in lake and tributary waters to provide improved parameters for mathematical modeling of fecal pollution. Two field and laboratory studies have been performed. One study sampled and monitored fecal pollution in two creeks that are tributaries to Sardis Lake. The second study used a discharge point of a tributary into Lower Sardis Lake and Thompson Creek to understand the concentrations and decay rates of total coliforms and E. Coli in the lake water column and in lake sediment. Results warrant further investigation with numerous repetitions to produce a more conclusive statistical analysis. These investigations could be conducted during different seasons which would better suit research needs by indicating when bacteria concentrations are at their highest and what water quality indicators are a primary influence on bacteria concentrations. Although the sediment-water ratio showed no correlation with bacteria concentration, further studies could incorporate microcosms of similar composition but with different sediment-water ratios. For example, comparing water alone with a two-to-one sediment-water ratio and a four-to-one sediment-water ratio may show an effect that sediment has on the bacteria concentration in the water. Continued studies pertaining to a sediment particle size analysis should be conducted on the initial sediment sample from each study. This may show an association of sediment particle size with bacteria concentration.


Mississippi Water Resources Conference

The 2009 Mississippi Water Resources Conference featured 11 keynote speakers, 63 oral presentations and 17 poster presentations. Invited speakers included: Dean Pennington, Yazoo Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management District; Scott Mowery, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Duane Smith, Oklahoma Water Resources Board; Eric Evenson, U.S. Geological Survey National Water Census; Amy Larson,National Waterways Conference Inc.; and Gene Sullivan, Bayou Meto Regional Irrigation Water Distribution District. Luncheon keynote speakers included Jimmy Palmer of Butler Snow and Bruce Hanson, East Mississippi Community College.

Presentations were divided into 11 different sessions: Delta Water Quality, Delta (Ag) Water, Wetlands, Delta Water, Sediments, Water Quality, Non-Point (2 sessions), Management/Sustainability, Wood Treatment, Modeling, and Soil and Water Treatment. Of the 63 oral presentations, there were 16 student presenters and 12 of 17 posters were given by students from Mississippi State University, Jackson State University, University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

A student competition was held in both poster presentations and oral presentations. Jay Palmer, a Mississippi State University graduate student won the poster competition for his presentation on Possible Correlations Among Simple Visual Disturbance Estimates and Hydrologic and Edaphic Parameters in Forested Headwaters of Mississippi. Richard Lusk, Mississippi State University graduate student received third place for his presentation on Electrokinetic Treatment of Mercury Contaminated Soil at the Mercury Refining Company Superfund Site. Olivier Bordonne, a graduate student from Strassbourg, France garnered second place for his presentation on Interaction of the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer in Northwestern Mississippi. Bordonne is currently completing an intership at the U.S. Geological Survey in Jackson. The first place winner was Lauren Mangum, a Mississippi State University graduate student, who presented on Treatment of Timtek Process Water by Co-Composting.

Additional activities included a buffet dinner Wednesday evening at the Hollywood Café and evening dinner cruise aboard The Tunica Queen. Ports and Waterways presentations on Friday morning prior to the Water Association general membership meeting were provided by Colonel Thomas Smith from US Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District, Commander Dan Norton of the US Coast Guard's Sector Lower Mississippi River and Colonel Mike Wehr of the US Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District.

We were fortunate to have numerous sponsors and exhibitors at this year's conference including: International Port of Memphis, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Mississippi 811 Inc., Neel-Schaffer Inc., Pickering Engineering, Rosedale-Bolivar County Port Commission, Taylor Machine Works, Thompson Engineering, US Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District, USDA ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory, Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis PA, and Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board.

A special "thank you" goes to the conference planning committee: Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Water Resources Association, Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Geological Survey.

MWRC Proceedings

Proceedings of the 2009 Mississippi Water Resources Conference are available on the Institute's website. You may also search this year's proceedings papers by clicking on the publications link and entering the year, title, or presenter's last name.

Reference Material

Whether it's drought, global climate change, ecological impacts, or weather disasters across America, researchers continue to seek answers to hopefully solve issues.


March 16-17, 2010
2010 Central Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Conference

October 6-8, 2010
Southeast Stormwater Association Annual Conference

November 3-5, 2010
2010 Mississippi Water Conference
Bay St. Louis, MS
Watch your e-mail for information.

November 14-17, 2010
TMDL 2010: Watershed Management to Improve Water Quality

Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute (MWRRI)

The institute exists as both a federal and a state research unit. Established in 1964, the MWRRI is one of 54 institutes (one in each state, The District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) that form a national network to solve water problems of state, regional, or national significance. In 1983, the Mississippi legislature formally designated the MWRRI as a state research institute. Federal funds designated for the institute are used to consult with state water officials to develop coordinated research, technology transfer and training programs that apply academic expertise to water and related land-use problems. These various activities are funded through an annual grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Mississippi state appropriations provide additional funds for cost share. The institute also assists state agencies in the development of a state water management plan, maintaining a technology transfer program, and serves as a liaison between Mississippi and federal funding agencies.

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