Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dwayne Porter

Abstract

Access to clean, safe drinking water is considered a basic human right (WHO 2004). It is vital to maintain adequate monitoring of source waters as well as to investigate claims of degraded source waters. In June of 2017, inaccurate reporting led many community members in Mt. Pleasant, SC to believe that their drinking water might be tainted, leading to elevated cases of brain cancer in children. Though steps were taken to test and ensure the drinking water was safe, fear over the health of the city’s drinking water still persists. This is largely due to the involvement of famed water quality advocate Erin Brockovich who claimed that the local water utility was using contaminated drinking water from a nearby reservoir, the Bushy Park Reservoir (BPR). In response to community concern, a site assessment was performed on the BPR and its surrounding watersheds. The results showed that the BPR was impaired for dissolved oxygen (DO); however, based on existing water quality data, it is not supported that the BPR was degraded or being adversely impacted by run-off. However, a projection of impervious cover for the BPR’s watershed is concerning as it suggests that by as soon as 2051 the BPR could begin to be impacted by urban run-off, experiencing increased nutrient, bacterial and chemical loading. Effective watershed management strategies will be paramount to maintain and improve the current health of the reservoir.

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