Written by Claire Gabel
The Gulf River Watershed project engages students in water quality monitoring at four local testing sites. The goal of the project is to provide students field experience and lab training to measure watershed health. The group meets twice a week to visit the sites, collect water samples, and run lab tests. At each site, students use a YSI meter to collect samples and measure parameters such as dissolved oxygen, salinity, conductivity, and temperature. Back in the lab students run tests for bacteria, nitrates, and optical brighteners (found in laundry detergents).
Students also measure chlorophyll-a levels, which indicate algae growth. After getting back to the lab, students use a vacuum pump to filter the samples though microfiber filter paper. The filters are stored in the freezer in and saved until there are enough filters to run the extraction procedure in bulk. This involves dissolving the filters in acetone, before using the fluorometer to measure the amount of chlorophyll-a. This year CSCR will likely run the extraction procedures twice due to the high volume of chl-a samples across all projects this summer. The first one is coming up soon!
Above: Quinn, Carl, and Carter (from left) filtering the most recent samples for chlorophyll-a.