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2002: Catchment hydrology in tributary streams of Lake Matoaka

Sharon Cardinal, Mike Pistorio, John Turcotte and Sara Bottenfield (Geology)

As human population increases in the Williamsburg/James City County area, the pace of land development increases to provide new homes, commercial businesses, and other services to new and larger communities. Our projects were designed to determine some of the hydrological features of local drainage basins, with a specific focus on stream hydrographs from undeveloped, developing, and developed watersheds. We wanted to examine the changes in catchment hydrology that accompany watershed development. Each of us had a specific project in mind at the beginning of the summer (determination of pH changes in streams during storms; determination of changes in discharge hydrographs from different watersheds during storms; calculation of a water budget for Lake Matoaka), but logistically we had to focus our efforts on the single task of establishing automated stream gauging stations in the field. The construction of weirs and their installation proved to be a daunting task, as the weirs often were undercut by erosion or were bypassed by water flows. Retrofitting was frequently required to repair leaks in weirs. By the end of the summer, two weirs were operational on streams in the Powhatan Creek watershed, and two were operational on streams in the Lake Matoaka watershed. Weirs still need to be installed in the three other continuously flowing streams in the Lake Matoaka watershed, and all five weirs must be automated for data collection. This work must be completed before we can construct a water budget for Lake Matoaka. Also, summer 2002 was particularly dry, so we were unable to measure any significant flows during storm events, nor were we able to document pH changes during storms. More than anything, our group discovered the difficult nature of field research and how problem-solving skills must be used almost daily.

For additional documentation the researchers provided a Powerpoint Presentation  entitled, "VEE Geology Research," provided here in PDF form.