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Archimedes' Dialogue Project

The Impact of Stormwater Runoff

About this Dialogue

This presentation focuses on non-point source pollution and its remediation.  When rainwater runs off of pavement into storm drains, it typically flows into small streams that eventually flow to the nearest river without any type of treatment.  This water carries contaminants such as motor oil, dissolved metals, pesticides, and fertilizers that get picked up along the way.  This is called non-point source runoff, because it is impossible to locate the specific source of each contaminant.  While one small parking lot might cause little concern, non-point source runoff becomes a major concern with regard to the health of the local river as towns grow and paved parking lots increase. The presentation also discusses current research at USC Aiken that is focused on the use of constructed wetlands to help trap and clean up these pollutants before they can reach a larger body of water.

About the Speaker

Dr. Sarah Michele Harmon received a BS in Biology from the University of South Carolina Aiken and her MSPH and PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.  During a 10-year career in environmental consulting, Dr. Harmon participated in the preparation of NEPA documents (Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements) for the U.S. Department of Energy and conducted numerous ecological risk assessments for both private and government facilities across the United States.  She received a professional fellowship appointment in 1996 with the U.S. Department of Energy at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC, where she focused on natural remediation techniques and how they can be applied for the unique mission of cleanup within the Department of Energy’s aging nuclear weapons complex.   Dr. Harmon accepted a full-time position at the University of South Carolina Aiken in 2005.  She currently holds the positions of Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Geology, Director of USCA’s Environmental Restoration and Remediation Program, and Co-director of USCA’s Center for Research Excellence.  Research in Dr. Harmon’s lab is centered on teaching undergraduates how to use indicator organisms to model the environmental risks posed by pollutants of interest.

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