Improving Riparian Zones and Soil Health at the Watershed Scale to Reduce Contamination from Run-Off and PFAS in Drinking Water Sources

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Southern New Hampshire University
This project examines how improving the health of riparian zones and soil can reduce contamination from run-off and PFAS as a pollutant in source drinking water. The use of PFAS has increasingly been a cause of concern for several decades because of their detrimental impacts to human health and the environment. Various studies are used to explore how water quality is impacted by landscape, the relationship of differing contaminants in soil, as well as using phytoremediation through plant species in order to clean soil and water. Results showed that urban expansion and activity degrade water quality. Riparian buffer zones with a width of 300 m and a length of 8 km are critical areas where landscape has a large impact on water quality metrics. Soil testing data showed that the highest concentrations of PFAS were found in the first 0-10cm. Long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA were the majority found within the topsoil and retention can be credited to low mobility. Anthropocentric activity enriched the soil and deposited contaminants which contributed to both PFAS and other metal concentrations. Red Fescue, River Birch, Sweetgum, Black Willow, Sycamore, Tulip Poplar, Amaranth, Tall Fescue, Bermudagrass, Mustard and Horsetail were all found to useful in accumulating of PFAS from soil through phytoremediation. Various plant species found as accumulators can be planted and used along bodies of water in order to intake PFAS pollution. Using the knowledge from the studies reviewed in this paper, plans for remediation of riparian and green zones can be completed in order to ensure better water quality prior to reaching point water sources.