Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Environmental Science and Policy

First Advisor

Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin


Schenectady, organic pollution, stable isotopes, urban stream syndrome, road salt, streams, Upstate New York, algae as a tracer, stream health, urban streams


The urban stream syndrome is defined as the typical effects that cities have on watersheds and has been identified in urban regions worldwide. Symptoms include a higher risk of flooding, increased erosion, reduced biodiversity, and elevated concentrations of nutrients and contaminants. The objective of this study is to determine the extent of the urban stream syndrome in and around the Schenectady area. More specifically, this study focuses on two separate aspects: 1) the influx of road salt, and 2) the influx of organic waste. In addition, data were compared with previous data of the same streams to determine changes over time. A total of 31 urban and 18 rural sites from 11 streams were visited during the summer of 2018. At each site, conductivity, DO%, and pH were measured. When present, different algae were collected, cleaned, dried and analyzed for nitrogen isotopes. Water samples from each site were analyzed for nitrite, nitrate, and chloride ion concentrations. This study found that urban streams had a higher influx of organic waste as well as elevated conductivity and chloride ion concentrations. This confirms the conclusions of a 2016 study on the same streams that the urban stream syndrome exists in the area. However, compared to 2016, the influx of organic waste seems to be higher in 2018 as indicated by the higher δ15N values of the algae. This study is of significance because it can be used as a baseline to determine the efficiency of upgrades to sewage systems as well as upgrades to storm water systems in the area of study.



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.