Accotink Creek Watershed Study Year 3

2010 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

The abstract below was written by the student. The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District made no editorial changes.

Accotink Creek Watershed Study Year 3

by Amanda M. Harbison, Junior, Falls Church High School


This is the third year of a continuation study which began in 2007. The study describes the results of stream habitat assessment along a four mile section of the upper Accotink stream. The Accotink Stream is a perennial stream which is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In the previous year’s study, aquatic habitat suitability was assessed by examining types and counts of benthic organisms along with stream pH, water and air temperatures, types of adjacent land use, presence of algae, bank erosion assessments, and stream bed garbage for twelve study sites. A diverse population of benthic organisms indicates a healthy steam environment.

This year’s study evaluated the types and counts of benthic organisms, but in addition to the above mentioned variables, water chemistry data relating to dissolved oxygen, nitrate nitrogen and phosphorous, were included.

Six sites of the previous twelve sites were identified for this year’s analysis because of their proximity to inflow from other smaller creeks or major run off pipes. The number and types of benthic organisms were down from last year for the same sites. The water chemistry analysis did not indicate any problems. The pH measurements for the stream channels were within range to support aquatic life. Stream bank erosion remained one of the more pressing problems along the stream. The erosion contributes to instability in the stream bed environment. There is ongoing buildup and shifting of large sediment bars along the length of the stream.

In conclusion, the Accotink stream environment is problematic.

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