Monitoring

What is monitoring about?
Monitoring means making measurements of various water quality indicators and sometimes it also involves counting organisms in a specified area over time in order to determine the areas overall health and cleanliness.  The cleanliness of the First Creek water is important as it directly leads to the Puyallup River which eventually ends up in the Puget Sound.  First Creek Middle School students go out to the creek every month to measure:

Water Quality
What is it?
Why is it important?
Temperature
·  it determines how hot or cold the water is in degrees Celsius (°C).

·  It influences the amount of oxygen that is available to aquatic organisms
pH
·  it measures the acidity or amount of hydrogen ions (H+) in the water
·  pH is based off of a 0-14 scale.
o   pH 7 is considered neutral ie. human blood
o   below pH 7 is considered acidic ie: lemon juice
o   above pH 7 is considered basic ie. Bleach
·  Naturally occurring fresh waters have a pH range between 6 and 8

·  It affects the solubility and availability of nutrients, and how they can be used by the organisms in the water
turbidity
·  is a measure of how cloudy or clear the water is
·  the more cloudy the water is, the higher the turbidity

·  It causes the water to warm up and cause the water to be less oxygenated


The students also sample water that is then brought over to the University of Washington Tacoma laboratories in order to measure:

Compounds
What are they?
Why is important?
Nutrients
·  chemicals or elements needed for growth of plants and animals
·  similar to “vitamins” for humans

·  Too much nutrients in water bodies make them contaminants or pollutants
·  High nutrient concentrations lead to algae growth that uses up oxygen in the water
·  Low oxygen in the water may lead to fish death
Metals
·  chemicals that are commonly found in the environment both naturally and also a result of human impact
·  comes from various sources including: aluminum cans, fences, roofs, automobiles, pipes and many more
·  Metals currently being analyzed in First Creek are:  copper, manganese and zinc
·  Some of these chemicals dissolves well in water and can be toxic to aquatic organisms and humans at high concentrations
Organic Contaminants
·  Family of compounds that are also commonly found in the environment that contains mostly the elements carbon and hydrogen
·  Different characteristics than metals
·  Organic contaminants currently being monitored in First Creek are: phthalates and perfluorinated compounds
·  some of these contaminants affect how the human body communicates at very low concentrations
·  some of these contaminants don’t breakdown into the environment and continue to increase in concentration if their sources are unknown.

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