Nia Rene

Nia Rene
M.S, Earth and Environmental Science, Graduate, 08/20/2019

Cohort Level: Cohort - I

Career Goal: My goal is to pursue a career in Environmental Science with NOAA's National Center for Coastal Ocean Sciences.

Expected Graduation Date: August 20, 2019

Degree: M.S Earth and Environmental Science

Research Title: The Mitigation of Septic Effluent Nitrogen Using a Hybrid Green Infrastructure Approach to Reduce the Growth of Harmful Algal Blooms.

Research Synopsis: Non-point source nutrient loading into our waterways is one of the leading causes of coastal eutrophication and subsequent harmful algae bloom (HAB) events. In Suffolk County, N.Y, septic systems treat 70% of the domestic waste and have been identified as a leading cause for degraded coastal water quality in Long Island coastal waters and an important factor contributing to massive outbreaks of HABs in the Great South Bay, Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound. TheHAB Cochlodinium polykrikoides (C. poly) has been implicated as causing toxic algal blooms in Suffolk County as well as coastal waters worldwide (Gobler, 2010), and has been found to be lethal to multiple species and life stages of fish and shellfish. Green infrastructure (i.e. bioswales,bioretention systems, and rain gardens) has been gaining recognition as an effective low-impact best management approach for mitigating stormwater related nutrient loading into waterways and may have the potential to address septic leaching as well.  However, the design of these systems is passive and as a result their water interception and nutrient removal capacity has been shown to be highly variable and inconsistent. The overall goal of this research is to evaluate the potential of an activated hybrid green infrastructure system (ecoWEIR™, patented) for reducing nutrient loading from septic systems and thus offset HAB growth in coastal waters. The specific objectives of this work are to (1) conduct controlled ecoWEIR mesocosm studies to evaluate nutrient removal efficiency from septic effluent and (2) carry out time-series incubations with the C.poly with mesocosm inflows and outflows to determine how ecoWEIR treatment offsets growth of this HAB species. This study will inform residents and coastal ecosystem managers of a cost-effective solution to groundwater contamination from onsite wastewater treatment via engineered drain fields