Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences: Environmental Engineering

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Andrew Schroth

Second Advisor

Donna Rizzo

Third Advisor

Arne Bomblies


Missisquoi River, Lake Champlain, Nutrients, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Spring


The timing and magnitude of the spring runoff period and associated high nutrient loads, driven by snowmelt and rain, has recently been suggested as a critical driver of harmful summer algal blooms in receiving waters. This project focused on characterizing nutrient and sediment dynamics during the spring runoff period in the Missisquoi River Basin and quantifying loads during this critical time period. Analysis focused on total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen(TN), and total suspended solids(TSS). Phosphorus was critical, as it has significant downstream impacts, such as lake eutrophication and harmful algal blooms (HAB’s). Nutrient and sediment loads were quantified during the spring runoff period (March-May 2014) in the Missisquoi River and Hungerford Brook tributary. A linear regression model and an R script statistical package (WRTDS) were used to quantify load estimations. It is suggested that load estimations using average daily discharge values are not sufficiently accurate; and thus 15 minute discharge values were used instead. This research and spring 2014 data collection efforts leverage existing (2012-2014) summer data from the Vermont EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program on Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) that has monitored the same sites during the summer time period. The spring 2014 data were compared with the existing (2012-2013) summer data to effectively analyze the seasonal trends and spatial patterns within the Missisquoi Basin during the spring runoff with respect to load estimates. It was found that the spring runoff period contributes a large amount of discharge and therefore nutrient and sediment loads to the Missisquoi River. The addition of the spring data provided a better seasonal analysis of nutrient loading trends for the Missisquoi River watershed. Load estimates varied both spatially and seasonally indicating the inter-annual variability in spring snowmelt and runoff that likely impact Lake Champlain water quality and harmful algal bloom dynamics.

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.