USGS - science for a changing world

South Atlantic Water Science Center

Map of North Carolina highlighting the project study area

Project Overview

Currituck Sound Water Quality Monitoring


Currituck County, Dare County, City of Chesapeake, VA, and City of Virginia Beach, VA

Cooperating Agencies

Project Chief
Jason Fine

Period of Project
2005 to present

Currituck Sound

This project was completed in 2012. These pages are for historical purposes only.


Back Bay
Back Bay, Currituck Sound, NC

There continues to be concern about water quality in and the biological health of Currituck Sound. As development in the Currituck Sound watershed continues at a rapid pace, management strategies are needed to protect and enhance the quality of this resource (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2001). The necessary tools and data are not, however, available to conduct an assessment of the effects of possible management strategies on salinity and water quality of the Sound.

In 1980, Currituck Sound Task Committee (North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, 1980) recommended that State agencies “request the U.S. Geological Survey to assist in an evaluation of the hydrology of the Sound.” The Corps of Engineers also recognizes the need for a hydrodynamic model of Currituck Sound to characterize inflows to and outflows from the Sound, as well as circulation within the Sound (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2001). Such a model can be used to evaluate the effects of both existing and possibly future hydrologic modifications on circulation and salinity in the Sound.

Previously-measured high nutrient concentrations and chronic algal blooms resulted in failure of Currituck Sound to qualify for designation as Outstanding Resource Waters (North Carolina Division of Environmental Management, 1994). There is, however, no recent water chemistry information that can be used to evaluate the current health of the Sound, nor are tools available to predict the response of Currituck Sound to changes in water-quality loadings.