2022 Undergraduate Research Day

Water Quality Analysis in Bluefields Bay, Jamaica during March 2022

First place poster presentation winner in GGP - Geography, Geospatial Science, and Planning!
Undergraduate Research Day Poster 2022
  • Hannah Lowry and Allison Gargus
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert T. Pavlowsky
  • Poster [.pdf]

Jamaica uses local stream and spring systems for secondary drinking water sources, clothes washing, bathing, and recreation. Water quality in this area is vulnerable due to poor economic development, pollution from human activities, and karst geology where groundwater can be affected by surface pollution. The objectives of this study were to assess water temperature, salinity, specific conductance, and bacteria at 12 sites along four stream and spring systems, including outflow from a Mangrove forest. Using prevailing water conditions and observed land-use characteristics, sampling sites were evaluated for water pollution risk. Good water quality conditions were found in more secluded areas away from the public, where streams flow through healthy wetlands, and at spring heads where ground water is discharged below mountain bluffs. Poor water quality conditions were found at sites near populated areas with greater densities of crude septic systems used for domestic waste treatment. The qualitative colorimetric bacteria test used in Jamaica was calibrated with a standard method (IDEXX) using samples from five Springfield, Missouri sites. Future work to improve water quality in Bluefields Bay includes informing the community about water resources management practices and developing a system for community program for water quality monitoring.