Watershed Based Environmental Planning in Bluefields Bay, Jamaica

Jackie E. Ebert, Master of Geospatial Sciences, thesis student

Dr. Robert Pavlowsky, Chairperson, Advisory Committee

Domestic and commercial activities pollute rivers and coastal zones and degrade the economy and ecology of a region. Mapping the watershed and testing associated water quality is necessary to determine areas of environmental degradation. Bluefields Bay, Jamaica lacks the necessary geographic information system (GIS) data to identify drainage areas and watershed. Specific land use and water quality data need to be collected and related to the hydrologic features of the Bluefields Bay watershed.

The main economic driver of the area, fisheries, as well as everyday living practices is negatively affecting the Bluefields Bay watershed. In order for the community to sustain their living practices and lifestyles it is crucial to associate areas with poor water quality to land use practices and landscape features.

The objectives of this study are to

  1. Delineate the topographic boundaries of the Bluefields Bay watersheds and sub watersheds;
  2. Characterize the Bluefields Bay sub watersheds as they relate to water quality and supply, landform and cover, and present human settlement;
  3. Monitor discharge and water quality of permanent rivers draining into Bluefields Bay;
  4. Develop a sub watershed risk approach to understand concerns and threats to the water supply and resources throughout Bluefields Bay

The purpose of this thesis is to carry out the initial watershed assessment to support the development of the Bluefields Bay Watershed Plan (BBWP). The BBWP will be used to make recommendations for natural resource protection and sustainable community growth.

This research is important for several reasons. The island of Jamaica as a whole has had a moderate amount of research conducted pertaining to its coastal resources, large urban cities, and biodiversity. However, there has been little published research studying inland water quality in developing land use areas. The communities lying within the Bluefields Bay watershed rely on the local water supply for drinking water, bathing, laundering facilities, and recreation, and would greatly benefit from efforts to analyze and improve their surface water and pollution runoff.

View the Completed Master's Thesis

View a Poster that was Made to Present this Research (at the March 2009 AAG meeting)

EH Jack sampling Pat wolde