The study of water resources involves understanding the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of natural and processed waters as well as how water and
its associated biogeochemical constituents are cycled through the environment.
As stormwater flows over land, it can entrain metals, nutrients, bacteria, pesticides and other contaminants and transport them to streams and aquifers. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that stormwater runoff is responsible for 21% of impaired lakes and 45% of impaired rivers.
Ongoing laboratory, field, and modeling studies in the department involve collaboration with agencies such as the USGS MD-DE-DC Water Science Center (located on campus), the US Forest Service, NOAA, the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Projects address topics such as the effects of urbanization and regional climate variability on the water cycle and nutrient transport; coupled feedbacks between water availability and patterns of urban growth; fate and transport of land-derived pollutants in streams and aquifers; and design and evaluation of new methods for stormwater management.