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Forecasting Shifts in Water Quality as Land Use Patterns Change

Project Summary

Water quality usually deteriorates proportionally to increases in the amount of land sealed by roofs and pavement within a watershed. Thanks to the power of computerized mapping programs, land use (city or farm), land cover (bog or forest), and other spatial features can be quickly quantified. Associating such land information with aquatic data, researchers will determine how detailed mapping information must be to accurately predict water quality conditions in 18 North Shore streams. They will create a model for forecasting water quality based on landscape variables acquired through archived information and new data collected during field studies. After identifying which variables most influence the model, researchers will use the model to examine how various plans for building in the Amity and Lester watersheds of Lake Superior could affect water quality. The results of this investigation will help city planners, county zoning committees, resource managers, and citizens make decisions about land use with regard to water quality.

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