Center for Water Sciences


Research Philosophy

Our philosophy of research is to comprehensively study water resources within southeast river basins.  Our research is conducted without agenda or bias, with the intent to gain full understanding of what impacts our water quality and quantity, and to then develop solutions to minimize those impacts. The objective, scientific data and analysis, provides the basis upon which informed decisions can be made by communities, corporate entities and cities as well as state and federal regulators regarding water quality and quantity. 

The Center’s research uses basic and applied science, and our approach aims to find the necessary balance between a healthy river ecology and a vital economy.

River basin ecology, restoration ecology, and water quality are the primary areas in which our researchers focus their efforts to maintain that balance. River basin ecology research includes projects pertaining to watersheds, rivers, floodplains, streams, and wetlands. Restoration ecology research includes projects pertaining to urban impact restoration, mine rehabilitation, reforestation, wetland creation, and low-impact development. Water quality projects include constructed wetland development and assessing the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of southeastern rivers and their effluents.


Completed Projects

This timeline gives an overview of our research projects from 2004 – 2016. For more detail on these projects, see below.

Completed Projects Listing

These are some of our earlier completed projects. They helped lay the groundwork for many of our later projects, partnerships, and collaborations.


Comprehensive Savannah River Study (2006-2008)

In order to determine the effect of an urban corridor on river ecology, Phinizy researchers performed a comprehensive, diagnostic assessment of the condition of the Savannah River.  Among the many outcomes of this project, our results for this study were compiled in the Savannah River At Risk document, which later served as an initial draft for Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) and the United States Corps of Engineers (USACE) documents. This project also set the stage for our continued monitoring of the Savannah River, leading to one of the most geographically and temporally comprehensive databases of its kind.


Kennecott Ridgeway Mine(2000-2008)

This project resulted in the development of low-cost successful restoration strategies for restoring former mine systems. As examples of this strategies, two mining pit lakes were successfully restored. Additionally, it helped establish one of the largest databases in the world of water quality and restoration data related to a former gold mine site and provided a Ph.D. opportunity for one of our researchers.


Hammonds Ferry Constructed Wetland Development (2007)

Our organization was integral in the design of a constructed wetland to rehabilitate a former brick mine. This project resulted in a vegetated constructed wetland cell and series of open ponds that keep stormwater from impacting the Savannah River, while providing natural habitat, aesthetic enhancement, and recreational opportunities to the surrounding subdivision community.


Merryland Brick Mine Restoration (2003-2007)

Approximately 420 acres of historic Phinizy Swamp land was successfully restored to bottomland hardwood swamp following years of kaolin mining. This project also resulted in the establishment of a wetland mitigation bank for the Merryland Restoration Project, which ensures the protection of this restored swampland in perpetuity.


Phinizy Swamp Constructed Wetlands Research

In partnership with the Augusta Utilities Department, we played a role in designing one of the country’s largest manmade wetlands, which are used for the tertiary treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater. Design of the gravity flow fed cells was enhanced by results from our experimentation with different wetland plant types, optimization studies, and tracer studies. The success and effectiveness of natural water treatment method have generated interest both locally and abroad, with interest from as far away as interest from the African Water Managers.


Continuous River Monitoring

Since 2005, Phinizy Center for Water Sciences has monitored water quality in southeastern river basins using autonomous sondes equipped with probes that measure and record temperature, specific conductance, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels at 15-minute intervals.  Currently, monitoring is conducted in the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers.

Through this monitoring program, we have

  • produced the most geographically and temporally comprehensive water quality dataset available for the Savannah River,
  • provided data to Georgia EPD and US EPA who used it to refine river water quality models,
  • developed insights into how the Savannah River functions, including the effects of dams and the importance of the Augusta shoals; and
  • presented findings at scientific meetings.

Reports and Publications

2008 – Savannah River at Risk Final Report

2011 – Savannah River Monitoring Report

2012 – Savannah River Monitoring Report

2013 – Savannah River Monitoring Report


Publications & Presentations

Peer Reviewed Publications and Articles

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, M.R. Erickson, and J.W. Moak. 2016. Reflections on using indicator bacteria for water quality impairment: results from two case studies in Georgia. The Georgia Operator: official journal of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals. 53(1).

Rosenquist, S.E., J.W. Moak, and O.P. Flite. 2013. Modeling biochemical oxygen demand through the Middle and Lower Savannah River Basin. Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Conference Presentations (With Papers)

2015

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, M.R. Erickson, C. Nestell-Fabillar, E.N. Hobbs, K. Laymon, D. L. Mullis, and J.W. Moak. 2015. Preliminary assessment of organic material flux in the Ogeechee River system: a Lagrangian perspective. In, Proceedings of the 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, M.R. Erickson, C. Nestell-Fabillar, E.N. Hobbs, K. Laymon, D. L. Mullis, and J.W. Moak. 2015. Summary of comparison of continuous sonde data from the Ogeechee and Savannah River Basins. In, Proceedings of the 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, M.R. Erickson, C. Nestell-Fabillar, E.N. Hobbs, K. Laymon, D. L. Mullis, and J.W. Moak. 2015. Biochemical oxygen demand in the Savannah River Basin: results from ten years of research. In, Proceedings of the 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

Mullis, D.L., J.W. Moak, C. Nestell-Fabillar, K. Laymon, E.N. Hobbs, B.S. Metts, M.R. Erickson, and O.P. Flite. 2015. A comparison of macroinvertebrate communities within two southeastern rivers. In, Proceedings of the 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

2013

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, and J.W. Moak. 2013. Changing our perspective to increase our understanding of basic aquatic ecosystem function. In, Proceedings of the 2013 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 10-11, 2013. University of Georgia. Athens, GA. Extended abstract.

Rosenquist, S.E., J.W. Moak, and O.P. Flite. 2013. High density Lagrangian sampling for pathogen source identification. In, Proceedings of the 2013 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 10-11, 2013. University of Georgia. Athens, GA. 4 p.

2010

Flite, O.P., P. Smith, A. Green, and J.W. Moak. 2010. Dynamics of oxygen demand within the middle and lower Savannah River basins. South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 13-14, 2010. Columbia, SC. 4 p.

Moak, J.W., B.S. Metts, S.A. Sefick, G.W. Eidson, and O.P. Flite. 2010. Results of a two-year intensive water quality study of the middle and lower Savannah River Basin. South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 13-14, 2010. Columbia, SC. 5 p.

Rosenquist, S.E., J.W. Moak, A.D. Green, O.P. Flite. 2010. Understanding hydrologic variation through time-series analysis. South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 13-14, 2010. Columbia, SC. 4 p.

2008

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, J.W. Moak, B.S. Metts, and S. Sefick. 2008. Overview of stable isotope results from a comprehensive Savannah River study. In, Proceedings of the 2008 South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 14-15, 2008. Charleston, SC. 4 p.

Gemmill, J.B., Eidson, G.W., Conner, W.H., Esswein, S., Flite, O., Hallstrom, J.O., Hayes, J., Hitchcock, D.R., Howard, T.R., Klaine, S.J., Post, C.J., Sawyer, C., Wang., K.-C., White, D.L. 2008. Cyberinfrastructure for Preservation of Stream and River Ecology, In, Proceedings of the 2008 South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 14-15, 2008. Charleston, SC. 3 p.

2007

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, J.W. Moak, B.S. Metts, and S. Sefick. 2007. Preliminary data from a comprehensive Savannah River study: the first six months. In, Proceedings of the 2007 Georgia Water Resources Conference, March 27-29, 2007. University of Georgia. Athens, GA. 4 p.

Wrona, Amanda, D. Wear, J. Ward, R. Sharitz, J. Rosenzweig, J. P. Richardson, D. Peterson, S. Leach, L. Lee, C. R. Jackson, J. Gordon, M. Freeman, O. Flite, G. Eidson, M. Davis, and D. Batzer. 2007. Restoring ecological flows to the Lower Savannah River: A collaborative scientific approach to adaptive management. In, Proceedings of the 2007 Georgia Water Resources Conference, March 27-29, 2007. University of Georgia. Athens, GA. 4 p.

2005

Eidson, G.W. and O.P. Flite. 2005. Multi-Year Research on the Use of Constructed Wetlands for Advanced Wastewater Treatment, In Proceedings of the 2005 Georgia Water Resources Conference, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. 4 p.

Conference Presentations (Without Proceedings Papers)

2015

Flite, O.P. 2015. Panel member, “What is in you water?”. Local Emergency Planning Committee/American Society of Safety Engineers Annual Summit. Augusta, GA.

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, M.R. Erickson, and J.W. Moak. 2015. Atypical sources of fecal bacteria in streams. Georgia Association of Water Professionals. Savannah, GA.

Flite, O.P., Erickson, M.R., K. Leymon, C. Nestell-Fabillar, and J.W. Moak. 2015. Results of the first year of surveillance for Richmond County, GA. Mid-Atlantic Mosquito Control Association. Savannah, GA.

Erickson, M.R., K. Leymon, C. Nestell-Fabillar, J.W. Moak, and O.P. Flite. 2015. Update: Mosquito surveillance program in Richmond County, GA. University of Georgia.

Flite, O.P. 2015. Maximizing flow: restoring the Savannah River Basin’s natural flood patterns. Panel discussion. 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

Erickson, M.R., K.A. Laymon, D.L. Mullis, J.W. Moak, C. Nestell-Fabillar, and O.P. Flite. Lagrangian sampling of E. coli in an urban stream. Poster presentation. 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

Moak, J.W., Erickson, M.R., K.A. Laymon, D.L. Mullis, C. Nestell-Fabillar, and O.P. Flite. Preliminary results of continuous water quality monitoring in the Ogeechee River basin. Poster presentation. 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

K. A. Laymon, Mullis, D.L., J.W. Moak, C. Nestell-Fabillar, M.R. Erickson, and O.P. Flite. Successional patterns of mosquito abundance in Richmond County, GA. Poster presentation. 2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 28-29, 2015. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

2014

Flite, O.P. 2014. A Basin of Information- monitoring and research-the building blocks for better models and better decisions. Georgia Environmental Conference. Jekyll Island, GA.

2012

Flite, O.P. and R.P. Duckett. 2012. Performance of the pit lakes at Ridgeway gold mine, Ridgeway, SC, USA. 19th Annual Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) Workshop. Vancouver, BC.

Flite, O.P., R.P. Duckett, J.W. Moak, and J.E. Schindler. 2012. Story of a successful mine closure in the Carolina Slate Belt. Geological Society of America’s Annual Meeting and Symposium, November 4-7. Charlotte, NC.

Flite, O.P., S.E. Rosenquist, F. Koehle, and J.W. Moak. 2012. Wetlands and mosquitoes. Annual Meeting of the Georgia Mosquito Control Association, October 17-19. University of Georgia.

Flite, O.P. 2012. Using Lakes as Sentinels; panel discussion moderator. Annual Conference of Association of Southeastern Biologists, April 4-7. University of Georgia.

2011

Wrona Meadows, A., C.J. Caroll, M. Carla Curran, O.P. Flite, J.W. Moak, C. Norwood, C. Pavel, B. Post, and J. Ward. 2011. Using sturgeon behavior to determine fish passage and ecosystem flow restoration opportunities on the Savannah River. American Fisheries Society. Seattle, WA.

2010

Flite, O.P. B.S. Metts, and J.W. Moak. 2010. Results of a tracer study conducted within constructed wetlands with varying cell characteristics. South Carolina Water Resources Conference, October 13-14, 2010. Columbia, SC.

2008

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, A.P. Wheeler, T.J. Shaw, J.E. Schindler. 2008. Progress on a long term acidic pit lake remediation strategy. The Society for Ecological Restoration-Coastal Plain Chapter Conference, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

2005

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, and J.E. Schindler. 2005. Onset and persistence of biogenic meromixis in a filling pit lake, Proceedings of the 2005 American Ecological Engineering Society Conference, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Eidson, G.W. and O.P. Flite. 2005. Multi-Year Research Comparison of Two Designs of Constructed Wetlands for Advanced Wastewater Treatment, Proceedings of the 2005 Wetland Society of America Conference, Charleston, SC.

2004

Flite, O.P, G.W. Eidson, and J.E. Schindler. 2004. A limnological approach to meromictic pit lake development, Proceedings of the 2004 U.S. EPA Conference on Pit Lakes, Reno, NV.

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, and J.E. Schindler. 2004. A limnological approach to meromictic pit lake development, Proceedings of Limnology and Oceanography Summer Meeting, Savannah, GA.

2003

Flite, O.P., G.W. Eidson, and J.E. Schindler. 2003. Impact of Wind: Planning for Sustainable Pit Lakes, Proceedings of Geological Society of America Annual Conference, Seattle, WA.