Land-use/land-cover and water quality in the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina: spatial-temporal relationships

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer Braswell Alford (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Keith Debbage

Abstract: As North Carolina experiences population growth and related development, it will become increasingly important to understand how different land-use/land-cover (LULC) types shape the geography of water quality. This dissertation explores the relationships that exists between water quality and land types across the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina. Key water quality parameters including fecal coliform, dissolved oxygen (DO), ammonium nitrogen (NH3-N), phosphorus (P), and nitrate-nitrite nitrogen (NO2-NO3), and LULC types were quantified and spatially illustrated to understand how relationships varied across the river basin from 2001 to 2006. Regression models were developed to statistically link water quality parameters with LULC types across the river basin and within each of the physiographic regions. Results indicate that this diverse landscape contributes varying amounts of pollution to surface waters within the basin. Specific findings include that although there was little change in land types during the study period, there were statistically significant relationships between land types and surface water quality. Although regression models illustrate that each of the dependent variables contributed some level of pollution to surface water systems in the basin, fecal coliform, and DO concentrations, in particular, were impacted by key land types including wetlands, mixed forest, and exurban development. In addition, there were regional differences among the three physiographic regions and water quality parameters. The primary findings suggest that transitional land-uses (i.e. mixed forest and exurban development) that surround urban cores can play a key role in shaping the geography of water quality across the river basin. As a result, resource agencies and decision makers alike should consider how land-use policies and activities related to transitional landscapes may adversely impact surface water quality across river basins.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Environmental, Land-Use/Land-Cover, Resource Management, Water Quality
Land use $x Environmental aspects $z North Carolina $z Cape Fear River Watershed
Land cover $x Environmental aspects $z North Carolina $z Cape Fear River Watershed
Water quality $z North Carolina $z Cape Fear River Watershed
Cape Fear River Watershed (N.C.)

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