Alissa Anderson and Kristen Immen, NC State University
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (NCDENR) principal goal is to preserve and protect our states’ natural resources. The organization works alongside similar agencies in order to implement programs to protect air quality, water quality and the general health of the public. The North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) is the agency responsible for statewide regulatory programs in surface water and groundwater protection. North Carolina is divided into seventeen river basins ranging from the Hiwassee in Western N.C. to the Pasquotank in the Northern coastline. Within the past decade, a somewhat baffling trend has been occurring with the pH of surface water in North Carolina that seems to be centralized in the Catawba River Basin near Charlotte. Despite efforts by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and NCDENR to reduce levels of compounds that create acid rain emissions, pH has become more acidic. Our client, Mr. Steve Kroeger from NCDENR-DWQ, has asked us to work towards pinpointing the cause of this interesting pH trend in North Carolina. Through the use of water quality databases such as the USEPA’s water pollution data base - STORET, alongside further research and communication with individuals associated with water quality, we hope to find a cause and potential solution to the rising acidity of surface water in our state. Other water quality markers including alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, heavy metals, turbidity and species analysis may lead to a possible explanation.