Author

Shea McCarthy

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dwayne Porter

Abstract

Congaree National Park aims to preserve its natural and cultural resources while protecting these benefits for current and future enjoyment. Hydrologic features make up a large portion of the park and attract visitor recreation. There are several known sources of pollution that enter these waterways, mainly from upstream sources of waste discharge. The national park and its surrounding areas hold great ecological significance, however, there are many threats to the surface water quality in this area. Water quality degradation can impact the ecosystem, wildlife, and visitor experience. This project specifically considers exposure to fecal contamination in surface waters from upstream and local sources. In addition to its detriments to the environment, exposure to fecal contamination also poses a risk for human health in recreational waters. The overall goals of this project were to assess fecal contamination levels in the waters of the Congaree National Park and to design a monitoring program that incorporates citizen science to regularly test for bacteria levels in park waters. Through the course of this project, bacterial water quality sampling was conducted, and the analyses reviewed, and the sampling methodology was optimized and documented to be transferable to a citizen science program. Development of a citizen science approach allows for sustainable practices and civic engagement with results that can benefit both park and public information, while minimizing staff requirements from Congaree National Park.

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