Water Quality Projects

Quantification of nitrogen and phosphorus in sediments of Copeland Creek and the Laguna de Santa Rosa

2016-17: The water in the Laguna de Santa Rosa has unhealthy levels of sediment, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and mercury. The goal of this study was to determine if sediments may be contributing to nutrient exceedances in the Laguna, and if so, which of the upstream areas are the biggest contributors.

  • Faculty: Jackie Guilford (CEI)
  • Partners: SCWA (Mike Thompson), Laguna Treatment Plant (Rita Miller and Rachel McCormick), Sonoma County RCD (Kari Wester), CEI (Suzanne Decoursey), California Geological Survey (Wayne Haydon)
  • Students: CEI Water Research Training Program; ENSP 499 Internship
  • Results:

Copeland Creek Flood Plain Assessment

2017: Over the last few decades, Copeland Creek has been channelized to allow for urbanization of it's floodplain. Increased flooding is anticipated with climate change. We recommend re-designing the canal system and preventing addtional development in the flood plain to better protect the environment and people..


Wastewater treatment effects on antibiotics

2015-16:. A growing concern is the fate of antibiotics that end up in our waterways after they are treated at waste water treatment plants. We examine the effects of standard waste water treatment on Azithromycin and identify by-products created by this process.


Copeland Creek Water Quality Monitoring Project

2013-present: Our waterways receive overland flow during storms and water from our gutters and fields. Are there pollutants in Copeland Creek? Where do they come from? What parts of the creek are most compromised and when?

  • Faculty: Russ Scarola (Hutchins), Mark Perri (Chemistry), Debora Hammond (Hutchins), Karina Nielsen (Biology), Nathan Rank (Biology)
  • Partners: Sonoma County Water Agency; School of Science & Technology NSF Grant "Stepping Up Stem"; Arts & Humanities; Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps; Center for Environmental Inquiry
  • Students: CHEM 125B Honors Chemistry, LIBS 320B Water Seminar, LIBS 202 Challenge and Response in the Modern World, SCI 120 A Watershed Year, Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, Chemistry Summer Internships
  • Results
  • Data (see data disclaimer):

Rohnert Park Nutrient Loading Project

2014-present: Is Rohnert Park contributing to nutrient loading into the Laguna de Santa Rosa? How do levels of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, TKN, nitrogen, orthophosphate, and phosphorus change in Copeland Creek in different regions (rural, residential, downstream of agricultural runoff, and at the Laguna) over time?

  • Faculty: Jackie Guilford (ENSP)
  • Partners: Jeff Church (SCWA); The Digital/Critical Cohort

Freshmen studies in water quality

2015-present: A Watershed Year is a freshman year experience that introduces students to local watersheds as they learn about science. The course focuses on teaching students how to conduct their own research. Course development was funded by National Science Foundation (PI: Lynn Stauffer).


Oxygen Depletion by the Water Fern, Azolla sp.

2015: Dense mats of the water fern, Azolla sp., can block sunlight and potentailly depleting oxygen in the water. This study measures the amount of oxygen in the water at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve's Kelly pond to determine whether Azolla growth may be affecting aquatic life in the pond.

  • Faculty: Martha Shott (Math and Statistics)
  • Partner: Center for Environmental Inquiry

Bacteria Levels in the Copeland Creek watershed

2012-present: Samples taken upstream and downstream of the proposed detention and recharge basin area on Copeland Creek enable pre- and post-comparisons of water quality.

  • Faculty: Michael Cohen, Tamas Turock (Biology)
  • Partner: Sonoma County Water Agency, SSU Facilities
  • Students: BIO 338 Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology, BIO 340 General Bacteriology, CHEM 315 Introduction to Research Methods, BIOL 494 Independent Research, BIOL 495 Special Studies
  • Results: click on link above

Assessing Invertebrate Diversity in Highly-Altered Aquatic Ecosystems

2014: Benthic macro-invertebrate (BMI) communities are used to assess the condition and relative health of aquatic ecosystems in two artificial lakes (SSU campus lakes and Mountain Lake at the San Francisco Presidio). Monitoring data allow assessment of the success of aquatic ecosystem restoration efforts.

  • Faculty: Nick Geist
  • Partners: SSU Facilities, Presidio Trust

Low-Cost technique to monitor organophosphate pesticides in Copeland Creek

2013-14: Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) is a relatively new technique that is used to separate organic compounds from water so that they can be analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. We are using the new technique to analyze samples from Copeland Creek and identify organic compounds, including organophosphate pesticides.

  • Faculty: Mark Perri (Chemistry)
  • Partners: SSU Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Program (RSCAP), Center for Environmental Inquiry, SCWA
  • Students: Chemistry 494 Independent Research
  • Results: Diamond et al. 2014 (Poster pdf; 1.8 Mb) - Measurements of Organic Pollutants on the SSU Campus. Diamond 2014 (Ppt 2 Mb) - Method Development for the Monitoring of Organophosphate Pesticides in Copeland Creek and Local water ways via Solid Phase Micro Extraction coupled with Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry.
  • Data (see data disclaimer):

Development of microbial-specific genetic markers to track sources of fecal pollution

2013-14: High levels of coliform bacteria and nutrients have been found in surface waters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. The City of Santa Rosa is interested in determining the sources of fecal pollution. This project develops polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques using microbial specific genetic markers to identify the source (i.e., poultry, dairy, human) of the bacteria. Water samples were taken from two sites on campus and upstream area on Copeland Creek at the Roberts Road Bridge crossing.

  • Faculty: Mike Cohen (Biology), Mami Kainuma (Consultant)
  • Partners: Caden Hare (City of Santa Rosa Environmental Compliance), Mami Kainuma (Consultant)
  • Students:
  • Results: Vasadia et al. 2014 (Poster 13 Mb) - Establishing Whodunit: Application of molecular markers for fecal source tracking.
  • Data (see data disclaimer)