Michael Burchell II
- Carbon storage potential in a recently created brackish marsh in eastern North Carolina, USA (vol 127, pg 579, 2019) , ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING (2021)
- Characterizing ambient nutrient concentrations and potential warning levels for surface water in natural forested wetlands in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina, USA , ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING (2021)
- Characterizing copper and zinc content in forested wetland soils of North Carolina, USA , ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT (2021)
- Impact of control structures on hydrologic restoration within the Great Dismal Swamp , ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING (2020)
- Carbon storage potential in a recently created brackish marsh in eastern North Carolina, USA , ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING (2019)
- Diel fluctuations of high level nitrate and dissolved organic carbon concentrations in constructed wetland mesocosms , ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING (2019)
- Natural and Constructed Wetlands in North Carolina: An Overview for Citizens , (2019)
- The Potential Long-Term Impacts of Climate Change on the Hydrologic Regimes of North Carolina’s Coastal Plain Non-Riverine Wetlands , Transactions of the ASABE (2019)
- The Potential Resiliency of a Created Tidal Marsh to Sea Level Rise , Transactions of the ASABE (2019)
- Tidal Marsh Creation , COASTAL WETLANDS: AN INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEM APPROACH, 2ND EDITION (2019)
Wetland monitoring in North Carolina (NC) has a 14-year history conducted by NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the first 10 years and North Carolina State University (NCSU) for the last 4 years. We will use the outcomes and lessons learned from these monitoring efforts to develop and implement a pilot, volunteer wetland monitoring program administered by NCSU with support from the Carolina Wetlands Association and RTI. This pilot program will establish the procedures and methods for a sustainable, citizen-based wetland monitoring program that can be expanded in future years. In Task 1, we will determine the methods used to monitor the hydrology, water quality, soil chemistry, vegetation and biota based on the outcomes of the September 2019 meeting of wetland experts from WPDG No. CD-00D25014. In Tasks 2 and 3, we will develop a project QAPP and SOPs for monitoring activities and provide training to volunteers including representatives from local and state agencies. In Task 4, we will establish 10-12 monitoring stations within undisturbed, protected wetland sites recognized as Wetland Treasures of the Carolina. Task 5 will develop a data portal for volunteers to share data, provide tools to visualize results, and develop applications to enhance the volunteer experience. In Task 6, we will develop and populate a database compatible with NC DEQâ€™s data structure and submit the data to NC DEQâ€™s for use in their wetland and other water programs. In Task 7, we will disseminate information and results through a quarterly newsletter, website, reporting to the EPA, and annual meetings, where we will also provide training to prospective volunteers. The outputs include a pilot volunteer wetland monitoring and outreach program, training materials and SOPs, data portal and supporting website, and various education materials (factsheets, newsletters, webinars). The data from these sites will determine the condition of different wetland types and demonstrate/quantify services provided by different wetland types. By becoming a sustainable volunteer citizen-based wetland monitoring program, this program will launch a state-wide wetland monitoring network and establish baseline metrics for wetland restoration, and protection.
Water table levels (saturation periods) in wetlands vary across the wetland and change with soil type and drainage class. These saturation periods have not been determined for most soils, and consequently, hydrologic performance requirements for restored wetlands havenâ€™t been well defined. The main objective of this project is to define saturation periods as a percentage of the growing season that restored wetlands should meet for the specific soils used for restoration. Saturation periods of natural wetlands will be determined for selected soil series ranging from very poorly drained organic soils to moderately well drained mineral soils. Data for most soils will come from prior investigations that measured water tables and computed 40 year records of water table data for each soil. Field monitoring of flood plain soils will also be conducted to complete the data base. Saturation periods for restored wetlands will be obtained from the data base of the NC Department of Environmental Quality which has catalogued water table and soils data from 233 restored sites in NC. Sites having soils similar to the natural sites will be identified, visited to determine soil type at each well location, and to assess wetland condition. Saturation periods will be compared between the restored and natural sites for a given soil type (series and drainage class). Saturation periods for wetlands successfully restored will be proposed for very poorly drained, poorly drained, somewhat poorly drained and moderately well drained classes. These results will allow saturation periods to be estimated for all soils across the region that restoration sites should meet to be successful.
Nitrogen (N) loading to our streams and rivers has improved since the mid-1990s through management practices that have reduced discharges from stormwater and agricultural sources. However, load reductions to surface waters like the Neuse River have not reached targeted goals, and eutrophication remains a major concern. Problems with N fluxes from our watersheds are expected to continue and worsen. Projected population increase and shifts in precipitation patterns will lead to significant increases in N loads to our surface waters, requiring new management strategies to reduce inputs by an additional 20-30%. Large facilities that treat wastewater for major municipalities are most heavily scrutinized, but what about the hundreds of small towns and communities that do not have advanced wastewater facilities? Often overlooked, the discharge limits for smaller systems for ammonia-nitrogen (NH4-N) are often high (10 mg/L) or even non-existent. Package plants that use aerobic processes to treat wastewater in smaller, rural communities often successfully treat NH4-N to low levels through the process of nitrification, but the effluent contains the byproduct nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N). Discharge of this form of nitrogen is often similar to loads discharged from agricultural facilities on an areal basis and will continue to contribute to eutrophication problems if left unchecked. To help meet current and future N reduction goals, the time is now to address these often overlooked sources using alternative technologies. Installation of constructed wetlands, known for high N removal potential, placed strategically in the landscape to intercept N from smaller rural wastewater treatment facilities, could be a solution to help NC get closer to its N reduction goals. Constructed wetlands are often used across the country and the world for advanced nitrogen removal from wastewater. In NC, these systems have been successful, but very few are in operation. The objectives of this research and outreach project are 1) to help small towns improve nitrogen removal performance of older existing constructed wetlands and 2) advance the understanding and use of constructed wetlands to remove nitrogen from domestic and municipal wastewater. 3) demonstrate the impact constructed wetlands could have on overall watershed N reduction when coupled with existing wastewater package plants.
A large farm located in extreme eastern Hyde County uses intense drainage practices to allow for agricultural operations and to maximize crop yields. Currently, water management on the farm requires pumping of excess agricultural drainage water into the Pamlico Sound. Multiple stakeholders, which include members that have in some cases, been historically adversarial, have forged a partnership to develop a large scale restoration and water management plan that will encompass over 7,200 acres of land. This plan will significantly reduce pumped agricultural drainage water to the Pamlico Sound, and reroute this water through historical drainage paths that will enhance the hydrology and habitat on approximately 4,200 acres of forested wetland that have been drained (it is believed that this area formed a natural drainage way flowing northwest in the direction of the Alligator River). If this project is successful, it could signal a pivotal change in scale and acceptance of these types of projects, because our planning thus far appears to have minimized required socio-economic trade-offs between stakeholders. The current conceptual plan for replicating and restoring natural drainage patterns within this area include plugging of farm ditches, land contouring, creating impoundments for water reuse and migratory waterfowl habitat, and planting of native vegetation where needed. To reduce drainage outflow directly to the Pamlico Sound via pumping, this farm land to be restored may provide a more ecologically sound area to redirect a portion of agricultural drainage water. Hydrology in the restoration area which was historically common to pocosin ecosystems can be restored. In addition, as pumped drainage water flows through this area, sediment, nutrients, and bacteria contained in this water can be effectively removed through biogeochemical processes unique to wetland ecosystems. Some of this drainage water will also be available for reuse by the farm. Reuse coupled with infiltration and evapotranspiration in the restored areas will also reduce the net volume of water leaving the confines of the farm. The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University proposes to provide leadership in finalizing the design and overseeing construction of Phase I of this project. In addition, it is crucial that the initial hydrologic modeling efforts that addressed the feasibility of this project be intensified to determine how water will be managed following construction. Our initial estimates are that pumping costs will be reduced, and both the pollutant load reduction to the sound and assimilation capacity of the wetlands will be high - a win for all stakeholders. However, these hypotheses must be tested using long-term models that will be calibrated and validated with field and laboratory data obtained during this proposed effort. This overall project will serve as a demonstration of how environmental and water quality projects can be implemented in conjunction with agricultural operations. In addition, it will serve as an example for other farms in the watershed/drainage district that will lead to future restoration projects with additional water quality benefits. These studies proposed will be coupled with reporting and education at local meetings to solidify current fragile partnerships. Failure to do so may stalemate this and future projects of this scale.
In 1996, the Town of Walnut Cove, NC designed and built a two-cell constructed wetland to upgrade their lagoon-based wastewater treatment system. For over 20 years, this constructed wetland has allowed the town to successfully meet their effluent permit requirements. In recent years, treatment efficiency for ammonium (NH4+-N), total suspended solids (TSS), and biological oxygen demand (BOD) has diminished. Additionally, the town has more frequently exceeded fecal coliform bacteria effluent permitted concentrations over the last few years. We believe that the age of the wetland system and associated detrital buildup is the cause for all of these issues. This proposal seeks to remove accumulated biomass from one of the wetlands cell and incorporate aeration, then test the change in treatment performance of the wetland. Results will be used to both inform the town and other facilities how to maintain and enhance water treatment potential their aging wetlands.
Wetland monitoring in NC has a ten-year history with much data collected on many wetland types. Important stakeholders are working with NC DENR to develop and implement a Wetland Program Plan. During this process, the agency was reorganized and funding was cut to NCâ€™s Wetland Monitoring Program. As a land-grant institute whose mission is to protect the health and well-being of its citizens and natural resources, we must buffer the effects the elimination of this program will have on NC. This proposal seeks to expand the work done by the Wetlands Monitoring Program in NC by executing several key components documented in the EPA approved WPP. This proposal will expand and continue the monitoring of hydrology, water quality, soils, and biota at 18 long-term sites. The data from these sites will be analyzed to assess trends in wetland condition and establish baseline metrics for wetland mitigation as well as monitor other long term changes in wetland services. The efficacy of innovative technology will be tested to collect remote data. The proposal also will develop a comprehensive database for wetland monitoring data collected in NC. This will include establishing a wetlands monitoring technical workgroup to contribute to a more unified and robust monitoring effort in NC. The database will include data from a wide number of entities along with protocols for entering future data. This centralized wetland database will provide efficient access to wetland information for state and federal agencies as well as the public, including mitigation providers and conservation organizations.
The overarching goal of this project is to demonstrate and evaluate constructed wetlands as a way to mitigate the effects of surface runoff/subsurface drainage on the water quality of the Little River, with particular emphasis in nutrient (N and P) reduction. In a partnership with ARCD, BAE will: 1. Provide consultation for final design and implementation of the constructed wetlands; 2. Design and implement a water quality sampling scheme that will maximize information gained on wetland treatment efficiency given a limited timescale and budget; 3. Synthesize data and evaluate the potential of constructed wetlands to improve water quality in the Little River watershed; 4. Participate in outreach such as field days and the development of education materials that will document potential widespread use of constructed wetlands in rural areas.
In 2005, the Town of Kure Beach began a collaboration with NC State University and the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT) to reduce direct discharge of stormwater to the beach. An innovative and cost-effective Dune Infiltration System (DIS) was developed and studied to determine if the technology was a feasible. During this 5-year partnership, we successfully demonstrated that the technology worked and provided an alternative solution for coastal towns to protect human health from bacterial contamination often found in stormwater that discharged to the beach. We propose to partner with the Town of Kure Beach to develop a plan to install infiltration devices near beach access areas that have storm water discharge pipes. We anticipate the locations with respect to the beach front and the subsequent design configurations and of these devices will be somewhat different compared to the previous systems installed at Kure Beach. Results of this planning grant will help inform this and other coastal NC towns about potential locations and design alternatives for subsurface stormwater infiltration devices.
The use of constructed wetlands strategically placed in the watershed is one alternative that appears promising. Wetlands have been used to successfully treat drainage water, but data documenting the treatment efficiency is sparse and has no-doubt limited the ability of the practice to be adopted on a more widespread basis. To test and demonstrate this practice, Albemarle RC&D and its project partners are finalizing the design of approximately 1700 linear feet of constructed wetlands within a main drainage canal within the Little River Watershed. This proposal will outline how our team from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at NC State University will provide assistance to the Albemarle RC&D in documenting the performance of these linear constructed wetlands in the Little River Watershed.
The proposed project will test mesocosm-scale derived nitrogen dissipation models at the field-scale and determine maximum water quality and ecosystem benefits for a large-scale wetland restoration project. Results from this study will be used by the wetland owner to manage the pumping rates to maximize ecosystem services, and results will be publicized to encourage the replication of projects like this and LFR, and the use of the mesocosm derived nitrate reduction models as a design tool. The specific objectives of the study include: 1. Test the mesocosm-scale derived kinetic nitrate dissipation model developed by Messer (2015) at the field scale to determine accuracy in predicting nitrate reduction on a seasonal basis. 2. Determine target maximum pumping rates for the MVR project based on nitrate removal goals and ecological inundation limits. 3. Assess whether the pumping agricultural drainage water though MVR project will cause the site to function as a source or sink of phosphorus.
- Expertise: Agriculture/Forestry
- Expertise: Climate/Environmental Change
- College: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Themes: Coupled human and natural systems
- Expertise: Engagement
- Expertise: Engineering and Infrastructure
- Expertise: Marine and Aquatic Ecosystems
- Themes: Sustainable agriculture, forestry, and rural, natural resource-based economies
- Expertise: Water Quality
- Themes: Water quality and quantity in the coastal zone