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stormwater pond

UF/IFAS researchers share data on copper concentrations in stormwater ponds

If you ask the average Floridian what copper sulfate is, chances are most won’t know. But ask them if they’ve ever seen a bright blue stormwater pond and they’ll likely say yes. Copper sulfate kills algae in ponds and changes its color to bright blue. Now, UF/IFAS researchers are sharing data on copper concentrations in stormwater ponds.

Mary Lusk, assistant professor of urban soil and water quality, and her lab’s environmental technician, Kylie Chapman, focused their study on Lakewood Ranch, a neighborhood in Bradenton Fla., south of Tampa.

They took water samples from three random spots in each of six ponds. They also surveyed non-turfgrass vegetation growing half a meter from the shoreline, both inside and outside the ponds. Analysis of the data drew some interesting conclusions.

Dollarweed growing in turf grass

Dollarweed (Photo from UF/IFAS EDIS Publication ENH 1128)

“In particular, we were surprised dollarweed (also known as pennywort) accumulated up to 1600 mg/Kg of copper when growing next to ponds that have been treated with copper sulfate algaecide,” explained Chapman.

“That means dollarweed may have potential as a plant you can purposely grow to remove copper – and maybe other metals – from contaminated soils and sediments,” added Lusk, a UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Department faculty member at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports copper is one of the most problematic heavy metals that can contaminate soil. Others include mercury, lead, and nickel.

By sharing this dataset, Lusk and Chapman hope others can use the information to further their own research. You can find more information about their work and the copper concentrations data here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.105982