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The 2016 Kent State Water and Land Symposium

A major focus for the Watershed Hydrology lab this fall has been preparing for the Kent State University Water and Land Symposium. Anne Jefferson was the symposium co-chair (with lots of help from Biology’s Chris Blackwood), and all of the lab members were involved in some way. Pedro, Laura, Hayley, and Cody presented posters. Caytie and Garrett helped with set up and were on tweeting duty. The symposium had about 400 attendees from universities, agencies, cities, non-profits, and the general public from throughout northeast Ohio. If you missed the event live or on twitter, here’s how it went down.


This year’s symposium occurred on October 5-6, 2016, and featured the theme of “Sustainability and Resilience on the Land-Water Continuum.”

Surface runoff from a closed landfill and the effects on wetland suspended sediment and water quality

Watershed Hydrology lab undergraduate Cody Unferdorfer will be representing the lab at this year’s Geological Society of America meeting in Denver in September. The work that he will be presenting will build on preliminary work that won the Kent State University Undergraduate Research Symposium Geology/Geography division in April, and Cody will have more and better data and analyses to show of at GSA.

Update: Cody will be giving a poster in the session on Undergraduate Research Projects in Hydrogeology on Sunday.

Surface runoff from a closed landfill and the effects on wetland suspended sediment and water quality

Cody Unferdorfer (1), Anne Jefferson (1), Lauren Kinsman-Costello (2), Hayley Buzulencia (1), Laura Sugano (1)
1. Department of Geology, Kent State University
2. Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University

During rainstorms, many wetlands receive surface runoff carrying sediment and dissolved materials. Some of the sediment and solutes remain within the wetland, where they impact aquatic organisms and nutrient cycling. With time, excess sediment can fill in a water body and destroy the aquatic ecosystem, or excess nutrients can lead to eutrophication. Closed landfills have compacted surfaces that can generate large amounts of surface runoff, and the goal of this project is to examine the effects of a closed landfill’s runoff on a wetland.

The study site is a constructed wetland in Parma, Ohio. Water samples were collected during storms beginning in July 2015. We monitored five locations at the wetland: inflow from the landfill; inflow from two green infrastructure treatment trains; inflow from a stream seep, and outflow. Water samples were analyzed for suspended sediment concentration, water stable isotopes, and dissolved forms of nitrogen and phosphorus. Discharge was measured at the outflow.

Based on a preliminary analysis of four storms, of the inflows; the landfill contributes the most suspended sediment with an average of 400 mg/L. There is no correlation between TSS and discharge at the outflow. Instead a first flush effect was observed, where TSS concentrations decreased with time. The landfill inflow is close to the wetland outflow, which could allow for suspended sediment to bypass most interaction with the wetland’s interior. However, comparing rain and wetland outflow stable isotopes shows that water residence time often exceeds a single storm, suggesting that there are opportunities for biogeochemical processing of nutrient inputs within the wetland.

Runoff from the landfill (right) enters the wetland (left) near the wetland's outlet structure. What impact does this muddy water have on the wetland itself? Photo by a Watershed Hydrology lab member, August 7, 2015.

Runoff from the landfill (right) enters the wetland (left) near the wetland’s outlet structure. What impact does this muddy water have on the wetland itself? Photo by a Watershed Hydrology lab member, August 7, 2015.

Eric Traub Thesis Defense!

You are invited to attend Eric Traub’s  public MS thesis defense in Geology.

“The Effects of Biogeochemical Sinks on the Mobility of Contaminants in an Area Affected By Acid Mine Drainage, Huff Run, Ohio.”

(Co-Advisors: David Singer and Anne Jefferson)

Monday, Feb. 22, 12:30 pm in McGilvrey Hall, room 339, Kent State University

Internships and seasonal employment at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

via Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and its nonprofit friends group, the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, have a variety of summer internships and jobs to offerKent State University students. Ranging from Creative Writing and Guest Services Management to Environmental Education and Resource Monitoring, CVNP has multiple available opportunities.

My name is Jamie Walters, Internship Coordinator here at CVNP and I am writing to you to ask you to forward this message with the below links to our position announcements to your students interested in gaining professional experience here in CVNP.

Located between Cleveland and Akron, CVNP enables college students to apply classroom learning and gain hands-on experience in a unique work environment. Check out our current internship postings here:

Seasonal Employment
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is seeking candidates for spring and summer positions! You can apply for the following positions on starting January 16. Seasonal job announcements for a GS-3 or GS-4 seasonal Interpretive Park Guide and GS-5 and GS-7 seasonal Interpretive Park Ranger, are open for applications between January 16 and January 23. Interested applicants must apply at Several vacancies are available for each position.

Stormwater-Stream Connectivity: Process, Context, and Tradeoffs

In a few minutes, I’ll be giving a cyberseminar in CUAHSI’s fantastic sustainable urban streams seminar series. You can join the seminar live at 3:30 pm, or watch a recording of it later. Either way, is where you want to go to watch and listen. If you want to know what you’re in for, I’ve attached my late-breaking abstract below. The whole series has been really superb, with great speakers making key points about the state-of-the-science in urban streams and watersheds. I’m honored to be part of the lineup, and I encourage you to check out all of the recordings. Enjoy!

Stormwater-Stream Connectivity: Process, Context, and Tradeoffs

Anne Jefferson

Streams in urban areas are often said to suffer from “urban stream syndrome” resulting in degraded geomorphology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem function. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled stormwater is a root cause of many of the symptoms of urban stream syndrome, so understanding how stormwater management options affect in-stream processes is important for creating sustainable urban streams. Today’s approaches to stormwater control include green infrastructure distributed throughout the watershed and more centralized stormwater control ponds and wetlands located near the stream. How well do these approaches minimize risks to human health and infrastructure and protect aquatic ecosystems? In this talk, I’ll suggest that the answer depends on three factors: context; process; and tradeoffs. In terms of context, watersheds and stormwater management efforts are situated within a particular natural landscape (climate, soils, etc.); relative to urban development (age and style of development, type of infrastructure); and within the social context of environmental attitudes and economic constraints and incentives. Processes upslope of stormwater controls that affect water quantity and quality and processes within the controls themselves, such as mixing, infiltration and residence time, exert significant influence on how urban stream hydrology, water quality, and ecology responds to stormwater inputs. Where stormwater ponds and wetlands (SCMs) are large inputs to a stream, they can impart distinct water quality signals, and such SCMs are unlikely to restore pre-development stream water quantity and quality. Distributed green infrastructure shows promising reductions in peakflows and total stormwater volumes at the street-scale, but challenges remain in scaling up to enough projects to make a difference at the watershed scale and in ensuring that variability in construction and maintenance don’t reduce the effectiveness of the green infrastructure. Finally, there are tradeoffs in our choices around stormwater management infrastructure, in terms of the broader environmental benefits it can provide versus a more narrow focus on water quantity and quality. Using an ecosystem services framework, I show one approach to examining these tradeoffs. None of the current approaches to managing stormwater are a panacea, but with process-based, contextual studies that also examine limitations and tradeoffs, we can move the science and practice of stormwater management toward better outcomes and more sustainable urban streams.

After the dam comes down: groundwater-stream interactions and water quality effects of restored and unrestored reaches in northeastern Ohio

The Watershed Hydrology lab will be out in force for the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver in October. For the last few days, we’ve been sharing the abstracts of the work we are presenting there.


BROWN, Krista Marie, Geology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44240, and JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240

Over that past decade, dam removals have become increasingly popular, as many dams near the end of their life expectancy. With an anticipated increase of dam removals in coming years, this study aims to develop an understanding of groundwater-stream interactions and water quality in former reservoirs after dam removal. Low head dams were removed in 2009 on Plum Creek and Kelsey Creek, tributaries to the Cuyahoga River. Kelsey Creek reservoir remains unaltered and consists of a stream channel flowing through riparian-wetland environments, while Plum Creek reservoir underwent channel restoration in 2011. At Kelsey Creek, 20 piezometers and 3 wells were installed within the former reservoir. Since October 2013, hydraulic heads have been recorded semi-weekly for aquifer modeling and water samples have been taken in the wells and stream. Water quality is being evaluated with field-measured parameters and ion chromatography. Plum Creek is being used to understand the water quality effects of channel restoration.
At Kelsey Creek, interaction between the stream and shallow groundwater is evident. The stream tends to contribute shallow groundwater flow toward the western side of the site and north, parallel to the stream. The well closest to the stream shows variability in specific conductance, indicating bidirectional groundwater-stream exchange and all wells show rapid response to precipitation events. Hydraulic conductivity calculated using the Hvorslev method ranged 2.84×10-2to 7.38×10-6 m/s and poorly correlate with the bulk sediments in Kelsey Creek.
Despite the wetland and groundwater-stream exchange in the unrestored Kelsey Creek, there is little change in stream water quality within the former reservoir site, similar to the restored Plum Creek site. This suggests that there is little water quality benefit to be gained from stream restoration at dam removal sites. Left unaltered, Kelsey Creek provides flood control and groundwater recharge in wetland areas.

Sensitivity of precipitation isotope meteoric water lines and seasonal signals to sampling frequency and location

The Watershed Hydrology lab will be out in force for the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver in October. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing the abstracts of the work we are presenting there.


REYNOLDS, Allison R., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44242, and JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240
Every precipitation event has its own isotopic signature, making it useful for hydrology purposes, like estimating transit time or identifying seasonality of groundwater recharge. Our purpose is to compare the seasonal signal and local meteoric water line (LMWL) generated by one year of event-based sampling to those resulting from multi-year monthly sampling at the closest Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) stations. The question we seek to answer is whether data from different sampling strategies, periods, and locations within the eastern Great Lakes region in North America converge on a regional-scale LMWL and seasonal signal.
From October 2012-present precipitation samples were collected in Kent, Ohio, filtered and analyzed by a Picarro L-2130i at Kent State University. The closest GNIP sites are Coshocton, Ohio, USA and Simcoe, Ontario, Canada; monthly data was downloaded from a database. For each site, we graphed the ?18O versus ?2H and added a linear trendline to represent the LMWL and fit sine waves to the data to assess seasonal isotopic signal.
Based on the event data, Kent has the most isotopically depleted precipitation, but when looking at monthly samples, it falls between Simcoe to the north and Coshocton to the south. This suggests that, in this region, isotopically light precipitation events are more important in terms of their frequency than their amount. LMWLs for each site were similar. Comparing the LMWLs generated from the event samples and monthly data, monthly data had a slightly lower slope and d-excess. For Coshocton, amplitude of the seasonal sine wave for ?18O is 6.2‰, for Simcoe the sine wave is 4.3 ‰. For the Kent dataset, event-based data produced a sine wave with amplitude of 6.1‰, while monthly data resulted in a 4.9‰ amplitude wave. While it is possible that the amplitude of a wave fit to monthly data would increase with data points that represent isotopically extreme months, it is likely that curves fit to monthly data will frequently under-represent the variability in precipitation isotopes as measured at event and sub-event timescales. Both the LMWL and seasonal signal analysis suggest a greater variability in precipitation isotope signatures during the winter relative to the summer in the eastern Great Lakes region.

Changes in hyporheic exchange and subsurface processes following stream restoration

The Watershed Hydrology lab will be out in force for the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver in October. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing the abstracts of the work we are presenting there.


BAKER, Stuart B., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, 325 S. Lincoln St, Kent, OH 44242, and JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240
Stream restoration is a billion dollar industry with major goals of improving water quality and degraded habitat, yet restoration often falls short of significant improvements in toward these objectives. At present, there are limited data and understanding of the physical and biogeochemical responses to restoration that constrain the potential for water quality and ecological improvements. Hyporheic exchange, the flow of water into and out of the streambed, is an important stream process that serves a critical role in naturally functioning streams, allowing for stream water to interact with the substrate in various processes. Hyporheic flowpaths can be altered by the transport of fine sediment through the stream bed and are thus susceptible to changes in sediment regime and hydraulics, as well as the changes wrought by construction of a restoration project. The goal of this research is to determine the effect of restoration on hyporheic exchange and associated biogeochemical processes. Preliminary results from Kelsey Creek, OH, a second-order stream restored in August 2013, show a slight decrease in average hydraulic conductivity but an increase in heterogeneity from pre-restoration (geometric mean 8.47×10-5 m/s, range 2.67×10-5-3.05×10-4) to four months post-restoration (geometric mean 4.40×10-5 m/s, range 1.18×10-6-1.19×10-3) to ten months post-restoration (geometric mean 1.41×10-5 m/s, range 1.11×10-6-6.40×10-4) in piezometer nests through large constructed riffle structures. These piezometers also indicate dominance of downwelling throughout riffle structures with only isolated locations of upwelling. A stream in Holden Arboretum, OH restored in April 2014 had no significant change in average hydraulic conductivity between 1 and 2 months post-restoration, but many individual piezometers had increases of over 100% or decreases of over 50%. The greater variation in hydraulic conductivities in both restored streams may be adjustment from disturbance to a new dynamic equilibrium. Transient storage and hyporheic exchange were also measured with resazurin injections pre-restoration and post-restoration, and nutrient injections of NH4Cl will compare the nitrogen uptake rates of the restored reach to an unrestored reach downstream.

The effects of biogeochemical sinks on the mobility of trace metals in an area affected by acid mine drainage, Huff Run, Ohio

The Watershed Hydrology lab will be out in force for the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver in October. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing the abstracts of the work we are presenting there.


TRAUB, Eric L., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 325 S. Lincoln St, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240,, JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240, and SINGER, David M., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 228 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44242
Currently, a watershed restoration group has made progress in remediating surface water contributions to the Huff Run Stream in Mineral City, OH, which is heavily affected by acid mine drainage (AMD) due to historical coal mining. However, the accumulation of AMD sediments on the streambed has prevented the overall ecological health of the area from rebounding. A proposed remediation plan includes dredging, however the efficacy of doing so while preventing further iron buildup and the potential release of trace metals during such an operation is uncertain. The objectives of this research are to examine the effects geochemical sinks can have on the fate and transport of trace metals in order to understand the possible side effects of dredging on the Huff Run. This work aims to build a framework on which to base proposed remediation plans at a wide range of acid-mine drainage impacted sites. To achieve these objectives cores were gathered from the Huff Run and the Farr tributary, where a large amount of AMD is discharged into the Huff Run. These core sediments were analyzed through XRD analysis to understand the abundance and distribution of mineral phases, and ICP analysis to provide information on the amount of trace metals and understand what mineral phases they are associated with. Groundwater piezometers installed in AMD-bearing sediments and streambed sediment were used to quantify changes in trace metals concentrations. The analyses of cores gathered from the stream provide evidence that overtime deposited iron oxides go through thermodynamic transformations into more stable phases, mainly goethite. On-going work aims to determine how mineralogical transformations impact the availability of trace metals. Hydraulic head values gathered the piezometers have shown that hyporheic exchange is occurring, despite the deposition of fine grained sediment and iron oxides from historical mining. Water samples collected from the piezometers have been analyzed for pH and conductivity and show consistent changes as the water is exchanged from the surface and groundwater. On-going work aims to determine how this exchange affects the transport of trace metals.