Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [The New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute]

Past Faculty Research Funded by NJWRRI

 

Fiscal Year 2010
Fiscal Year 2009
Fiscal Year 2008
Fiscal Year 2007

To view faculty research from the most recent fiscal year, visit our Recent Research page.

To view all previously funded research, please visit our Annual Report Archive.

 

Fiscal Year 2010

Impact of salinization on New Jersey amphibian species: A physiological approach to water quality issues

Assistant Professor Lisa Hazard
Department of Biology and Molecular Biology
Montclair State University

This study provides critical information regarding the proximate causes of amphibian declines due to salinization of aquatic habitats, using a novel approach integrating conservation physiology and environmental science. This behavioral assay of amphibian salinity tolerance has not previously been applied to problems of water contamination, and provides a unique perspective on New Jersey water quality issues.

water samplingMajor objectives of this study:
• Determine level of behavioral aversion to road deicers for adults of several focal species of New Jersey amphibians
• Correlate level of aversion with use of terrestrial/aquatic habitats.
• Evaluate responses to different deicers
• Monitor breeding activity by focal species at temporary and permanent bodies of water at varying distances from roads and test for a relationship between breeding success and concentrations of deicer-related ions (Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Cl-).

The results will facilitate predictions of which species are more likely to be impacted by salinization due to either road salt runoff or saltwater intrusion. Based on our results, wood frogs in particular may face serious problems due to increased salinity. Adults show no aversion to even extremely high salinity, but tadpoles are extremely sensitive to increased salts, with an LC50 of approximately 0.05 M (Hazard, Kwasek and Conforti, unpublished data). This raises the possibility that wood frogs will stay and breed in ponds that are unsuitable for their offspring, leading to reproductive failure.

Contact Information:

Assistant Professor Lisa Hazard
Montclair State University
Telephone: (973) 655-3418
E-mail: hazardl@mail.montclair.edu

Back to Top

 

Evaluation of three methodologies to document improvement of water quality through stormwater management measures in an urban subwatershed

Pat Rector1 and Associate Professor Christopher Obropta2
1Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County
2Dept. of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

This project is designed to evaluate three methods of tracking cumulative implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) on a subwatershed scale and determine the method that best documents water quality improvements. The criteria for determining the most appropriate methodology to document water quality improvement included: ease of use, cost, technical expertise necessary, and the ability to indicate the effects of cumulative BMPs in a subwatershed. Three methods were evaluated to document water quality improvement that resulted from implementation of BMPs. The three methods were: 1) modeling, 2) monitoring of flow to determine volume reductions, 3) monitoring of chemical and biological parameters. Additionally, "Build A Rain Barrel" Workshops were held and surveys were conducted to determine installation rates as well as the area of the home that was disconnected.

Based upon this study, monitoring the flow appears to be the best option for measuring
the impact of BMP installation on a watershed scale, provided a significant number of
homes participate in the BMP program, in this case, the disconnection and rain barrel
program.

Contact Information:

Pat Rector
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County
Telephone: (973) 285-8300 x225
E-mail: rector@njaes.rutgers.edu

Associate Professor Christopher Obropta
Rutgers University
Telephone: (848) 932-5711
E-mail: obropta@envsci.rutgers.edu

Back to Top

 

Development of Sustainable Biosorbents to Recover Nutrients from Water

Assistant Professor Mahmoud Wazne
Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering
Stevens Institute of Technology

This research aims to develop and test functionalized quaternary amine anion
exchange resins consisting of waste lignoncellulosic materials to remove nutrients from
water. The proposed route to the formation of these materials is by etherification of the
cellulosic moiety of agricultural waste products using ammonium salts in the presence of
an alkaline catalyst. The developed lignocellulosic anion resins can be placed in
bioretention basins and trenches surrounding problematic areas to intercept nutrients from runoff. Upon saturation, the nutrient loaded biosorbents can be composted and recycled as fertilizer. If implemented, this practice would be a truly green and sustainable process, where lignocellulosic waste materials are used to recover nutrients that are otherwise pollutants and recycle them back to farm land.

This research was successful in developing biosorbents from lignocellulosic waste
product. The developed resins have shown excellent removal capacity for anions
including phosphate and nitrate. However, more work is needed to further develop the
ion selectivity.

Contact Information:

Assistant Professor Mahmoud Wazne
Stevens Institute of Technology
Telephone: (201) 216-8993
E-mail: mwazne@stevens.edu

Back to Top

 

Fiscal Year 2009

Antibiotic pollution of aquatic habitats and impact on the development of environmental pools of resistance in natural microbial communities

Assistant Professor Elisabetta Bini
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

This project aims to study the effects of wastewater treatment plant (WTP) effluents on the composition and resistance of microbial communities in surface waters and sediments.  The hypothesis being tested is that antibiotics contribute to the emergence of infectious diseases by affecting the development of reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes within natural microbial communities.  Affected environments are expected to be those exposed to detectable concentrations of antibiotics, such as in the immediate surroundings of wastewater treatment plants.  To prove a correlation between antibacterial agents’ pollution and development of resistance in natural ecosystems, the following aims were pursued:

Aim #1. Determination of antibiotics in wastewater effluents and sediments.
Aim #2.  Testing cultured isolates for antibiotic resistance.
Aim #3. Community structure and metagenomic analysis of antibiotic resistance determinants.

Results of this research suggest that resistance to specific antibiotics might be due to the lateral transfer of resistance genes from wastewater effluents to freshwater bacteria.

Contact Information:

Assistant Professor Elisabetta Bini
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5616
E-mail: bini@aesop.rutgers.edu

Back to Top


Development of a profile SOD measurement technique

Robert Miskewitz, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Sediment oxygen demand (SOD) is the sum of the dissolved oxygen removed from the water column by the respiration of organisms living in the sediment and the oxidation of reduced chemicals found in the sediment.  The SOD in a stream can vary based on sediment age, surface area, depth of deposits, temperature, and chemical and biological characteristics.  SOD is often considered an indicator of the health of the system because sediment populations remain relatively stable while the overlying water can be transient.

The most common method of SOD measurement involves enclosing a known volume of water in a chamber over a known area of the riverbed surface, then measuring the change in dissolved oxygen concentration over a period of time.  However, one of the most important environmental factors that will affect the SOD is the flow rate of water over the sediment/water interface, which cannot be simulated in an SOD chamber.

The SOD measurement methodology tested in this study is based upon a characterization of the flow in the near sediment boundary layer and the transport of dissolved oxygen down a concentration gradient.  The main advantage that it has over chamber methods is the ability to measure the SOD flux as a function of the flow.  In addition, the measurement time is reduced from two hours to ten minutes.  To test this methodology, side by side comparison of the chamber and profile methods were conducted.

Contact Information:

Robert Miskewitz, Ph.D.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5707
E-mail: rmiskewitz@aesop.rutgers.edu

Back to Top


A modified photosynthesis process for water purification

Assistant Professor Shaurya Prakash
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

The goal of this research effort was to determine and improve the efficacy of using chlorophyll, the most abundant natural pigment, as the next generation photocatalyst for water decontamination. An experimental approach was to be used to identify critical parameters required for optimization of chlorophyll use. Furthermore, a model nanofluidic device was to be built to overcome challenges related to short lifetime and subsequent diffusion length of singlet oxygen. The project was terminated early (three months after the start date) due to the PI moving from Rutgers University to The Ohio State University.

Back to Top

 

Fiscal Year 2008

Volatilization of PCBs from the Tappan Zee region of the Hudson River

Associate Professor Lisa A. Rodenburg and Robert Miskewitz, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

In this research, the micrometeorological technique was applied for the first time to
investigate the air-water exchange fluxes of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A field
campaign was conducted in July of 2008 in the Tappan Zee region of the Hudson River. This section of the River is known to be heavily contaminated with PCBs, leading to large
volatilization fluxes. By measuring the concentrations of PCBs at two heights above the water surface as well as in the dissolved phase, fluxes and air/water exchange mass transfer coefficients (vaw) were determined for individual PCB congeners. The average gas–phase ΣPCB concentration was 0.7 ng m-3, elevated over regional background by about a factor of 2. Dissolved-phase PCB concentrations ranged from 2 to 14 ng L-1, in good agreement with the measurements of others. In 14 of 16 sampling events, PCB concentrations were higher in the lower air sample, indicating positive fluxes (net volatilization) of PCBs from the water column. Vertical ΣPCB fluxes ranged from 0.2 to 12 μg m-2 d-1 and were highest on July 10th. Values of vaw ranged from 0.05 to 2.27 m d-1. The relationships between vaw for PCB congeners and various meteorological variables such as wind speed and air temperature were investigated. vaw and sensible heat flux were inversely correlated, while vaw was mostly positively correlated with latent heat flux. Both wind speed and friction velocity (u*) displayed positive relationships with vaw. In addition, temperature usually displayed a positive correlation with vaw. Correlations between vaw and Henry’s law constants for individual PCB congeners were found to be not significant, in agreement with theoretical predictions.

IMG_1926.JPG

The air sampling and micrometeorology equipment set up on the south end of the Piermont fishing pier.

Contact Information:

Associate Professor Lisa Rodenburg
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5774
E-mail: rodenburg@envsci.rutgers.edu

Robert Miskewitz, Ph.D.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5707
E-mail: rmiskewitz@aesop.rutgers.edu

Back to Top


Identifying the source of excess fine-grained sediments in New Jersey rivers using radionuclides

Assistant Professor Joshua Galster1 and Assistant Profesor Kirk Barrett2
1Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University
2Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Manhattan College

Sediment is well known to be an important aquatic pollutant in New Jersey and elsewhere. Sedimentation was listed as the number one cause of river and stream
impairment in the USEPA’s most recent “National Water Quality Inventory” (USEPA, 2007). In New Jersey, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has identified nearly 50 “assessment units” (mostly equivalent to HUC14s) that are impaired by excessive suspended sediment concentrations, encompassing 370 square miles and over 700 stream miles (NJDEP, 2006). Our objective is to assess how successful an established analytical method is at identifying the source of the fine-grained sediment within streams in New Jersey. Using radionuclides to “fingerprint” sediment coming from different subwatersheds and from channel bank vs. surficial soil erosion within a drainage basin is an established technique, and has been used in a variety of geologic
settings and in watersheds of various size (see page 73 of the FY2008 Annual Report for citations). We propose to use the technique to distinguish between landscape and channel bank erosion in two New Jersey watersheds with different land uses, and to eventually influence land management practices (e.g., BMPs). Our hypothesis is that the fine-grained sediment in urban/suburban fluvial systems originates mostly from stream bank material produced from channel-widening erosion and will show relatively lower radionuclide activities, whereas, in areas with significant row-crop agriculture, substantial sediment originates from the landscape and will show relatively higher activities.

References:
1. NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection). 2006. New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Water Monitoring and Standards, Trenton, NJ, 590 pp.
2. USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). 2007. National Water Quality Inventory: Report to Congress, 2002 Reporting Cycle. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, EPA 841-R-07-001, Washington, DC.

Contact Information:

Assistant Professor Joshua Galster
Montclair State University
Telephone: (973) 655-4123
E-mail: galsterj@mail.montclair.edu

Assistant Professor Kirk Barrett
Manhattan College
Telephone: (718) 862-7517
E-mail: kirk.barrett@manhattan.edu

Back to Top


Fiscal Year 2007

A Quantitative Approach to Linking Temporal Variations of Groundwater Level with Nitrogen Cycling in New Jersey Wetlands

Associate Professor Daniel Giménez1 and Professor Joan Ehrenfeld2
1Department of Environmental Sciences

2Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Wetlands are considered one of the most valuable terrestrial ecosystems because of their multiple functions, including as regulators of biogeochemical cycles. Previous research has demonstrated that New Jersey wetlands located in developed areas experience rapid and frequent wet/dry periods. At the core of this proposal is the hypothesis that data analysis techniques in combination with site-related information can separate and identify the factors determining the dynamics of groundwater fluctuation at a site. Furthermore, we hypothesized that these factors interact with spatial variation in soil properties to determine N cycling in wetland soils. Specific hypotheses of the research are: 1) wavelet and multifractal analyses of wetland hydrographs can provide statistical descriptions of flashy signals, and identify short- and long-frequency components of water table dynamics, and 2) temporal patterns of nitrification and denitrification (“hot moments”) are better explained by the hydrological patterns elucidated and quantified in objective 1 than they are by spatial variability in soil properties alone.

Our goal is to apply multifractal and wavelets analyses to an existing database of long hydrograph records from wetlands in New Jersey, and carry out new analyses of soil conditions and N cycling in two sites selected on the basis of the hydrograph analyses. This is considered a pilot study to demonstrate the feasibility and environmental significance of the method, and as a basis for proposals for more comprehensive examination of these objectives.

Contact information:

Associate Professor Daniel Giménez
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5715
Email: gimenez@envsci.rutgers.edu

 

Back to Top


Biogeochemistry of Pb transformations mediated by phosphate-releasing bacteria

Associate Professor Nathan Yee
Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Lead (Pb) is a toxic heavy metal found in many contaminated sites in New Jersey.  The subsurface transport of Pb in groundwater is strongly affected by its chemical speciation. In order to accurately predict the fate and transport of Pb in contaminated aquifers, a detailed understanding of the biogeochemical processes that affect Pb transformations in soils and sediments is required.

A common Pb mineral found in Pb contaminated soils is cerussite (PbCO3). Recently, we have isolated a bacterium from a contaminated soil in New Jersey that appears to transform cerussite into highly insoluble Pb-phosphate minerals.  The mechanisms controlling this mineral transformation process are currently unknown.  In this study, we employed X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy to examine the biotic/abiotic transformation of PbCO3 into insoluble Pb-phosphate minerals.  The objective of this study was to resolve microbial and chemical contributions involved in the Pb mineral transformation process.

The principal findings are: 1. preliminary results suggest that cerussite undergoes solid-phase transformation during incubation with GP-19S, and 2. control experiments show that abiotic reactions can also induce cerussite transformation.

Contact Information:

Associate Professor Nathan Yee
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Telephone: (848) 932-5714
Email: nyee@envsci.rutgers.edu

Back to Top

 

Useful Links

-----