Mountains to the Bay:

Water Resources Engineering in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

This field school in water resources focuses on water issues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Students will actively evaluate water availability and measure water quality throughout the watershed. Participants will visit streams, rivers and estuaries to experience how water resources affect different areas for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Students will visit and tour small-scale, medium-scale, and large-scale water quality control impoundments and explore the economic, environmental and social considerations associated with water resources as they relate to engineering design. Students will explore and discuss the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, agriculture and aquatic resources upon people and ecosystems throughout the watershed. Students will develop and complete a project related to bay water resource management to assess learning throughout the program.



The headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay begin as far south as Virginia and extend Northward into New York State. We will begin by exploring the headwaters of the Bay in Rockingham county and examining water quality and storage in the county. We will also tour water treatment facility in Rockingham county. We will then travel to the Pennsylvania State University and meet with researchers in environmental engineering and watershed management to learn about current research trends related to water quality and climate change.

We will continue North to the Sinnemahoning watershed, where we will exam the impact of hydraulic fracturing on headwaters and compare and contrast that impact to the small watersheds visited in Rockingham county.



We will travel down the Susquehanna River and meet with the water scientists and discuss how agriculture and water resources are intimately related.

The Susquehanna River is the Bay’s largest tributary, and contributes about half of the Bay’s freshwater (about 19 million gallons per minute). The river basin borders the major population centers of the east coast, and although relatively undeveloped, has experienced problems of water pollution and overusage. Because the Susquehanna River flows through three states and is classified as a navigable waterway by the federal government, there are state, regional, and national interests involved.

We will continue South and tour the Conowingo Dam and discuss the sustainability issues associated with water quality management, using the history of the Conowingo Dam as a case study.


To the Bay & Beyond

The Chesapeake Bay - the largest estuary in the United States - is an incredibly complex ecosystem that includes important habitats and food webs. The Bay and its rivers, wetlands and forests provide homes, food and protection for diverse groups of animals and plants. Fish of all types and sizes either live in the Bay and its tributaries year-round or visit its waters as they migrate along the East Coast.

We will visit sites along the Bay and test water quality in the Bay. We'll discuss, past, present and future water resource issues related to the Chesapeake Bay and the broader issues within the watershed, from the Mountains to the Sea.

The program is expected to be offered in May 2017. The program will include college credit through James Madison University for ENGR 478: Water Resources Engineering and ENGR 480: Special Topics in Engineering. The course will begin in Harrisonburg Virginia on May 15 and will travel throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The course will involve many watershed related activities and tours. Participants will be expected to be able to complete several outdoor activities which may include: hiking, climbing, swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Hiking shoes and water shoes will be beneficial for this immersive program.

Accommodations will mostly be at State Park Cabins throughout the watershed. Students will be sharing rooms. Transportation will be via JMU rented vehicles throughout our 10 day tour of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The class will stop at restaurants during travel days for breakfast lunch and dinner. Students should be prepared to pay for the expenses associated with these meals.