Diego Riveros-Iregui (Principal Investigator): “RAPID: Collaborative Research: Impacts of Extreme Flooding on Hydrologic Connectivity and Water Quality in the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Implications for Vulnerable Populations”, National Science Foundation, Hydrologic Sciences Program, EAR-1712345, $58,851, 2016-2017.
In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought extreme rainfall that led to extreme flooding across eastern North Carolina, including the Lumber River basin. Land use in this region is dominated by large-scale crop-cultivation and includes some of the highest densities of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and processing facilities in the United States. The 3,000 km2 Lumber River watershed and immediately adjacent areas are also home to most of the Lumbee Tribe of American Indian’s 60,000+ members and represents a region characterized by high rates of poverty and large disparities in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The region, declared a National Disaster area, is dealing with widespread contamination of surface waters, shallow groundwater, and drinking water supplies due to drowned livestock, compromised waste lagoons, inundated landscapes, failed septic systems, and other contaminant sources that have become hydrologically connected during flooding. This project seeks to document the impacts of extreme flooding on water quality in this region in the coming months and improve understanding of how hydrological processes, land use, and social vulnerability combine to translate ephemeral, flood-related hydrologic connectivity into persistent water quality impacts. This project will engage members of the affected Lumbee Tribe through both citizen science and public education.