Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Earth and Environmental Sciences


Geological Sciences

First Reader/Committee Chair

Alford, Jennifer


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) offer the ability to meet the rising demands of population growth by housing large amounts of livestock on relatively small areas of land, using medication to accelerate their maturation, and reusing waste products as fertilizers. However, there is a growing abundance of literature related to land use configurations and their effects on water resources, many of which highlight agriculture as a primary contributor of nutrients and fecal bacteria found in surrounding water resources. The purpose of this study is to advance the current knowledge surrounding CAFO land-use and its effect on tributaries within the Cape Fear River Basin (CFRB). Land-use characteristics were summarized using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Multivariate linear regression was utilized to examine how dissolved oxygen (DO), fecal coliform (FC), pH, ammonia (NH3), nitrate-nitrite (NO2-NO3), total phosphorus (TP), total kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), conductivity (Con), turbidity, and suspended residue were influenced by land-use characteristics. Results indicated a higher concentration of NH3 and total phosphorus levels in watersheds with CAFO land-use. Regression analysis indicated that NH3 concentrations were positively correlated with the percentage of CAFO land-use whereas TKN levels were positively correlated with the percentage of agricultural land-use. These results suggest that CAFO and agricultural land-use have a statistically significant relationship on tributary water quality and should be addressed in future water resource management plans.