Identifying nitrogen sources in the Choptank River

Identifying nitrogen sources in the Choptank River

The Choptank River always scores poorly in the Chesapeake Bay Report Card in terms of water quality and biotic integrity, with evidence that nutrient inputs (particularly nitrogen) are primarily responsible for degraded water quality. This has prompted the requirement for a monitoring approach that can distinguish the distribution and impacts of these various sources of nitrogen.

This project will analyze existing aquatic sediments, plants, and animals collected throughout the watershed to pinpoint key sources of nitrogen. As submerged aquatic vegetation has disappeared in regions heavily impacted by land-use activities, macroalgae and oysters will be deployed and incubated in situ to help trace the origin of nitrogen inputs by identifying, delineating and mapping the relative influence of the varied urban and agricultural land uses in the watershed. Findings from this project will:

  • produce information to assist environmental management of the Choptank River Watershed.
  • provide a baseline for future assessment following implementation of best management practices that are planned and/or in progress to reduce nitrogen inputs from these four land use activities. These include advanced fertilizer application management; sewage upgrades at Cambridge; artificial wetlands at Tuckahoe; and sewage installation and treatment at Greensborough. This will allow a measure of the success of these practices and provide feedback on investments made by landowners.

Key Personnel

Simon Costanzo
Science Integrator
Bill Dennison
Vice President for Science Application


  • Start: 2013-01-01
  • Finish: 2013-12-31
  • Duration: 11 months