Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Matthew Scarborough

Second Advisor

Courtney Giles


stormwater, duckweed, road salt, phosphorus


Water and nutrients are vital resources to all life forms on Earth. Excess nutrients, however, can have detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystems. In many watersheds, high phosphorus (P) levels can lead to eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. Stormwater runoff is a major contributor for introducing P into natural water bodies from sources such as agricultural fertilizers and yard waste. Another contaminant that makes its way into stormwater runoff is road salts. In cold climates, various salts are distributed onto roads and sidewalks in large quantities to lower the melting temperature of snow and ice. This study analyzed the intersection of phosphorus contamination and road salt contamination. There are many treatment measures to remove phosphorus from water bodies, such as chemical, biological, and physical methods. Lemna minor, more commonly known as duckweed, is an aquatic plant species that is known to uptake phosphorus from water bodies and incorporate it into its biomass. In this study, a synthetic stormwater media was created, and the phosphorus uptake of duckweed was tested under sodium chloride road salt conditions ranging from 0.5 g L-1 up to 10 g L-1. Results for biomass increase as well as physical observations were taken under each salt condition. As the road salt concentration increased, the phosphorus removal by the duckweed was ultimately less successful, the duckweed grew by a lower percentage of its original biomass, and showed physical signs of degradation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.