Aidan Conway

  • 2018 Summer Water Intern

Education & Training

  • B.S., Environmental Science, University of Pittsburgh
  • Sustainability Certificate, University of Pittsburgh

Research Interest Summary

Acid Mine Drainage, Nitrogen Eutrophication, Water Quality, Urban Watersheds, Green Infrastructure

Research Interests

My research has been focused on the Streets Run Watershed located in Allegheny County. Water quality in the Streets Run watershed has been and continues to be impaired by multiple stressors. In 1996, Streets Run was designated as an impaired water body under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. Decades of coal extraction, urban encroachment, and excess nutrients have degraded water quality throughout the watershed. Furthermore, predicted increases in precipitation in the Ohio River Basin increase the risk of flooding in an already flood-prone valley.

This study utilizes a number of water quality parameters (total metals, anions, nitrogen isotopes, total organic carbon, and pH) to clarify spatial and temporal patterns of water and water chemistry within the watershed. Baseflow and stormflow stream samples were collected to document mobilization processes during precipitation events. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) were calculated for total iron and aluminum based on 2018 sampling, and metal yields routinely exceed these EPA standards. Excess nutrients released from aging sewer infrastructure cause eutrophication throughout the watershed. Further, dual nitrate isotope analysis suggests that nitrogen in samples are primarily from sewage-derived sources.