Date of Graduation

Summer 2010

Degree

Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences

Department

Geography, Geology and Planning

Committee Chair

Robert Pavlowsky

Keywords

Jamaica, stream health, GIS, water quality, land use

Subject Categories

Hydrology | Water Resource Management

Abstract

Water supplies for drinking and ecological support in Jamaica are threatened due to poverty and poor infrastructure, and the coastal waters into which they flow are polluted in some areas. Recently, Bluefields Bay, located on the southwest coast of Jamaica, has been designated a national fish sanctuary and there are questions about the condition of water quality in the area and its ability to support both human uses and fish habitat requirements. Integrated watershed management is a holistic approach that connects water quality problems to the land use practices and environmental conditions affecting them. The objectives of this study are to (i) utilize GIS to delineate and characterize sub-watersheds; (ii) complete water quality testing along all the rivers and major springs flowing into the bay; and (iii) classify the subwatersheds according to the risk of water degradation. The best stream channel and water conditions were found where streams flow through healthy wetland environments, are located away from settled areas, and have relatively wide or established riparian corridors. Most of the water problems observed are related to poor solid waste management, domestic water treatment, and the lack of protection of critical watershed areas such as riparian buffer zones, freshwater and coastal wetlands, and spring recharge areas. A community-based water monitoring program can be used to increase awareness of water issues, train the next generation of environmental managers, assess the condition of river quality through time, and improve acceptance of conservation practices to control pollution problems.

Copyright

© Jackie Elizabeth Ebert

Campus Only

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