Copper Concentrations in Tidal Creeks and Estuaries of the Eastern Shore and the Relationship to Plasticulture and Copper-based Crop Protectants
Klawiter, Kathryn Alyce
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This project investigates the effect of plasticulture and copper-based crop protectants on water quality on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Water and sediment copper concentrations in both plasticulture and non-plasticulture containing watersheds were measured to determine the scope of copper in Eastern Shore tidal creeks. Runoff from a variety of land-uses including agricultural, plasticultural, residential and natural areas were collected and measured for copper to determine where copper-containing runoff originates. Copper concentrations in plasticulture impacted tidal creeks were higher than background (0 - 3 ug/L) only in spikes, during or immediately after runoff-producing rainfall events. These spikes registered as high as 263 ug/L total copper, or 127 ug/L dissolved copper. Plasticulture and copper-based crop protectants were affirmed as the cause of these spikes because control watersheds indicated no high copper spikes. Runoff from different land-uses verify that copper is present in high concentrations only in runoff from fields engaged in plasticulture and using copper-based crop protectants. Sediment copper concentrations were found to be within the natural range, but exhibited some variability based on proximity to agricultural copper inputs.
- Masters Theses