The Effect of a Riparian Buffer on Water Quality in an Agricultural Stream

Friday, February 12, 2016
Marcella Jurotich, Wayne Junior Senior High School, Wayne, NE
Sedimentation is the accumulation of excess sediment in water bodies. Agriculture is one of the major causes of sedimentation in streams in rural Nebraska. Studies show that riparian (streamside) vegetation reduces sediments in streams. Typical methods of measuring sedimentation do not apply in channelized streams. A novel approach was used to measure sedimentation by measuring sediment depth in the run. A study was designed to test the hypotheses that a riparian buffer would significantly reduce sediment depth, total dissolved solids (TDS) and alter stream cross sections along a small unnamed creek in Nebraska. Three regions of the creek were set up as study sites. One region had a riparian buffer, two regions did not. Stream cross sections, TDS, and sediment depth were measured. The cross sections of the sites without riparian buffers had less heterogeneity. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) showed that TDS significantly decreased with a riparian buffer. ANOVA results showed that sediment depth also significantly decreased with a riparian buffer. The results agree with other studies indicating the effectiveness of riparian buffers in reducing sedimentation.