Hill stu­dents get a close look at Schuylkill wa­ter qual­ity

The Community Connection - - NEWS -

EAST COVEN­TRY >> The Schuylkill River Green­ways Na­tional Her­itage Area teamed up with The Hill School and Stroud Wa­ter Re­search Cen­ter re­cently for wa­ter qual­ity test­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion.

Schuylkill River Green­ways Ed­u­ca­tion Co­or­di­na­tor Sarah Crothers along with David Bressler of the Stroud Wa­ter Re­search Cen­ter worked with a Hill School en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence class to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion about bod­ies of wa­ter. Through­out Oc­to­ber, the stu­dents learned about wa­ter­sheds such as the Schuylkill River and in­di­ca­tors that de­ter­mine if a wa­ter­way is healthy or not.

“It was im­por­tant for Schuylkill River Green­ways to reach out and en­gage the stu­dents in ac­tiv­i­ties that ex­pose them to lo­cal nat­u­ral re­sources such as the Schuylkill River wa­ter­shed and nearby recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties like the Schuylkill River Trail,” Crothers said.

Crothers added that the stu­dents are from out­side of Pottstown and sev­eral came from dif­fer­ent states or even coun­tries. She said although the stu­dents hadn’t lived here all their lives, they per­ceived the Schuylkill River as un­healthy be­cause of its color in some ar­eas.

To test their per­cep­tion, stu­dents pulled up waders over their cloth­ing and got in the Schuylkill River at Tow­path Park in Pottstown to per­form sev­eral tests. They tested the river for vari­ables such as tem­per­a­ture, oxy­gen lev­els, con­duc­tiv­ity and more. Crothers said the re­sults showed the Schuylkill River is quite healthy with lots of dif­fer­ent species liv­ing in it. One test even re­vealed there was no E. coli bac­te­ria present.

“The stu­dents now bet­ter un­der­stand in­di­ca­tors of wa­ter qual­ity. They know why tem­per­a­ture mat­ters. They know why the oxy­gen lev­els mat­ter,” Crothers said.

Stu­dents were able to com­pare the re­sults with in­di­ca­tors for other wa­ter­sheds and with a dig­i­tal mon­i­tor­ing de­vice for the Schuylkill. The Stroud Wa­ter Re­search Cen­ter in­stalled a Mayfly wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing de­vice by the river at Tow­path Park. The de­vice ex­am­ines the same el­e­ments the stu­dents were test­ing by hand. It’s pow­ered by the sun and ev­ery five min­utes the data is trans­ferred to a web­site for real-time re­sults at bit.ly/2DnxbsR.

Schuylkill River Green­ways hopes to con­tinue work­ing with The Hill School in the fu­ture. The or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to part­ner with the school’s Eco-Ac­tion Club in the spring for tree plant­ings and trail cleanups, and stu­dents will con­tinue do­ing projects on the river in the sum­mer.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Hill School stu­dents wade out of the Schuylkill River at Tow­path Park in East Coven­try af­ter col­lect­ing wa­ter sam­ples.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Hill School stu­dents, as­sisted by ex­perts from the Stroud Wa­ter Re­search Cen­ter, test the qual­ity of the wa­ter in the Schuylkill River at Tow­path Park in East Coven­try.

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