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About My Research

Briefly, the idea of this project is to begin at the headwater spring of the Chattahoochee River, perform water quality tests, inject a fluorescent, water-tracing dye, and then track and test that water as far as Lake Sidney Lanier, where the dye will disperse and no longer be trackable.  That process will be repeated on each free-flowing segment of the Chattahoochee River and it’s receiving stream, the Apalachicola River as long as the dye holds out.  That stuff cost me $2,400 for two 5-gallon pails, which was all I could afford.  From there, I intend to turn right and paddle, with a little help from my canoe sail, along the coast to Mobile, Alabama, where I will then proceed upriver on the Mobile, Alabama, Coosa, and Etowah Rivers back to the Etowah’s headwaters spring north of Dahlonega, GA.

Generalized map of the Chattahoochee River. It is joined by the Flint River at Lake Seminole and then flows through the Florida Panhandle to Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Map source:

The goals of the project are multiple, but these are the main ones:

  1. To test the feasibility of a single person tracking a mass of water down a river system, sampling that mass as it changes over space and time,
  2. To collect low flow water quality data on the Chattahoochee River and the Apalachicola River,
  3. To locate and document any major sources of pollution to these rivers,
  4. To locate and document potentially illegal incursions into the channels of these rivers,
  5. To collect enough time-varying tracer dye data at various points on the rivers to determine their ability to disperse and dilute future pollutant spills, and
  6. To have a grand adventure.