Mount St. Mary’s Searches for
Nutrient Sources in Tom’s Creek
-Submitted by Jeffrey Simmons, PhD
Associate Professor of Environmental Science
Mount St. Mary's University
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Faculty and students at Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU) are closely monitoring Tom’s Creek to try to identify sources of phosphorus pollution within the watershed. Phosphorus is one of the main pollutants of concern in streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and a 2004 report by the MD Department of Natural Resources confirmed that phosphorus levels ranged from “baseline” to “excessive” when they sampled a few locations in Tom’s Creek watershed.
“Our study is a follow up that will try to determine where the phosphorus is coming from ,” says Dr. Jeffrey Simmons, Associate Professor of Environmental Science. “Our study will also be more intensive - we’ll be taking a larger number of samples from more locations.” The water samples are analyzed for several water quality parameters at MSMU’s Environmental Laboratory. At the end of the yearlong study a report will be written summarizing the findings and made available to the public.
Currently Kim Fowler, a senior Biology major, is helping with the stream sampling as part of her senior research project. During the summer another college intern will take over the research assistant position. Dr. Simmons and his students will also be visiting children at Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary to teach them about water pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Trust and The New Forest Society provided funding for this project. The Monocacy and Catoctin Watershed Alliance and Frederick County Office of Watershed Management are partners in the project.