Does the Chickasawhatchee Swamp Influence Water Quality? (Poster)
Golladay, Stephen W.
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As watersheds become dominated by human land use, water quality is often altered or degraded. Since 1994, water-quality constituents have been measured monthly in three adjacent Coastal Plain watersheds in southwest Georgia. Row-crop agriculture and managed forestlands are the dominant land use within each watershed; however, one watershed (Chickasawhatchee Creek) had 10-13% less agriculture and greater wetland area than the others. Much of the wetland area was within the Chickasawhatchee Swamp, a substantial wetland complex adjacent to the lower portion of the creek. Riparian areas had less forest, greater agriculture, and greater wetland area compared to the other watersheds. Chickasawhatchee Creek had significantly lower suspended sediment and NO₃₋N concentrations than the other sites. Organic and inorganic carbon concentrations were significantly greater than the other sites. These results suggest that the Chickasawhatchee Swamp may be an important buffer preserving water quality in southwest Georgia. However, these results should be considered preliminary because water quality was not quantified in tributaries entering the swamp. An expansion of the current sampling effort to include upstream tributaries of the swamp is addressing this information need.