Water Quality

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant strive to be education and outreach leaders in coastal Georgia, providing information and resources to help simplify complicated issues.

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Water Quality Program

Our goal is to raise awareness of local and global water quality issues and promote stewardship among children and the general public.

Contact: Katy Smith,
Water Quality Program Coordinator
Phone: 912-262-3338
Email: klaustin@uga.edu

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant monitor water quality in Georgia’s rivers and estuaries in collaboration with Riverkeeper® organizations, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, the National Park Service and college professors in Georgia.

Education and outreach are important aspects of our water quality program as we develop programs for local schools and colleges and partner with organizations such as the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Focus areas, highlighted at regional festivals and other organized events, include:

  • plastic debris in the oceans
  • coastal area septic systems
  • environmental contaminants from industrial pollution

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Field School

During the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Field School at the Brunswick Station, students travel aboard the R/V Georgia Bulldog to estuarine sampling sites in the waters surrounding the city.

There are two emphases available:

  • Ecology students conduct water quality sampling and analyses and learn how to apply the information in both laboratory and vessel settings.
  • Environmental science students are taught about seafood consumption advisories that occur as a safety response to environmental contaminants such as mercury.

Plastic Ocean Debris

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant strive to raise awareness about the impacts of disposable plastics in coastal communities and worldwide.

Plastics are designed to be highly durable, yet are increasingly used in manufacturing disposable items. Litter often finds its way into the ocean either directly from beaches or by way of storm drains. Many animals become entangled or mistakenly ingest plastic debris.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant began an outreach effort in 2011 to address plastic debris in the ocean and present consumer options to reduce human impact on the marine environment. Participants examine real ocean water samples to explore how, as plastics break down, microscopic fragments displace plankton and impact the food chain. In addition, participants discuss innovative display items such as bags and notebooks made from repurposed debris and are encouraged to consider local and global aspects of the plastic debris issue and practice sustainable actions in their own lives.

Sapelo Island Estuary Monitoring

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant conduct routine nutrient monitoring for Sapelo Island as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP).

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant perform monthly testing at four sites, including Sapelo Island’s Cabretta Creek and Dean Creek. Bottom water samples are collected for laboratory analysis of nutrients, chlorophyll-a and bacteria. Monitoring data for each reserve is available from the reserve system’s Centralized Data Management Office.

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