While much of eastern North Carolina remains under water, U.S. Geological Survey scientists and hydrologic technicians are boating over rooftops, submerged cars, and bridges and roads topped by deep water to collect data and determine the amount of environmental damage done by Hurricane Floyd's heavy rains.
USGS scientists from South Carolina to New York are sampling water from flooded areas, streams and rivers looking for bacteria, sediments, heavy metals, chemicals and other contaminants.
With floodwaters inundating wastewater lagoons on animal feedlot operations in North Carolina, malfunctioning municipal wastewater lift stations, and overflowing wastewater treatment lagoons in the Conway area, there is great concern that the decline of dissolved-oxygen concentration will be greater than with past storms.
USGS scientists are looking at dissolved oxygen concentrations in floodwaters from Floyd. After hurricanes Hugo, Fran, Bonnie and Bertha, the USGS documented large drops in dissolved-oxygen in the Waccamaw River and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It took as long as four or five weeks before those waterways began recovery. This drop often occurs with the natural flushing of the extensive tidal marshes without additional nutrient loads.
To better document and understand the water chemistry of this type of event, USGS scientists will be collecting water-quality samples on a weekly or semi-weekly basis and analyze them for nutrients, bacteria, pesticides and metals.
The USGS is collecting water-quality samples at more than a dozen sites in the Tar and Neuse River Basins. The samples will be analyzed for bacteria, nutrients, metals, pesticides, dissolved oxygen and pH levels.
Contaminated water is one of the primary worries in the flooded eastern North
Carolina. Wastewater-treatment plants have been flooded, as have septic systems
and animal-waste lagoons. Rotting animal carcas
Contact: Butch Kinerney
United States Geological Survey