Question: What are examples of citizen science projects that have tested water for pH?

liz is asking a question about ph
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by liz | September 22, 2017 17:34 | #14942

I would love to learn about how groups of people have organized around pH testing their local waters. Thanks!


Three of many examples of citizen science initiatives that, inter alia, have tested for pH in water are as follows: (1) "Exploring Experimentation in an Innovative Citizen Science Project" by Ria Follett, Vladimir Strezov Ria Follett, Vladimir Strezov Macquarie University NSW Australia "One of their research questions- Did high pH levels affect plant growth? Looked for existing sources of knowledge: e.g. popular aquaponic sites recommend pH of 6.5 to 7 allow update of nutrients (eg iron) by plants. Collected data: 4 participants have pH >8, all other participants had lower pH levels. Looked to their own experience: • “Most of my Kale is fine but some have yellowing leaves “ • “my plants look healthy and my fish are thriving so no problem” Experimented with different pH level and found it made no difference to their plants. Concluded high pH is not a big problem"

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(2) US Rivers Get a Boost from Citizen Science Projects By: Haven Livingston Date: Monday, December 3, 2012 From December 2012 World Rivers Review: South Yuba River Citizens League"(California): Safe-to-Swim Study. "The group’s water quality monitoring follows five parameters: dissolved oxygen, pH, water and air temperature, turbidity and conductivity. These are important because much of the biota living in a freshwater system is dependent on particular chemical and physical environments to survive. This includes temperature, which affects how much oxygen the water can hold and has an effect on chemical reactions such as those involving pH. Water also holds heat longer than air, so when rivers warm they will remain warmer for longer, reducing availability of oxygen for fish and other species. Turbidity and conductivity measure the suspended particulates (clarity of the water) and the speed at which the water conducts electricity (salt content), respectively"

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(3) Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day (US EPA)-By Rachael Graham

"On April 9, 2016 more than 1,200 volunteers participated in Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day to measure… got it – water quality!

Over 150 sites throughout the island were sampled by volunteers from 30 municipalities as part of a worldwide effort to gather data using citizen science efforts. The data they collect will be uploaded and become part of a global data set for the World Water Monitoring Challenge.

This was the eighth year of the program coordinated by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program (SJBEP). Prior governmental and NGO sponsors for this event included EPA Region 2 Caribbean Environmental Protection Division (CEPD), Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (PREQB), the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Puerto Rico Water and Environment Association (PRWEA). For 2016, EPA Region 2’s Division of Environmental Science & Assessment partnered with SJBEP and CEPD and sent two biologists to provide technical assistance and training on additional water quality parameters for citizen science.

For the Water Monitoring Challenge, group leaders were trained to use a standardized water quality kit to measure dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and turbidity in weeks prior to the event and then pass this training on to their individual team participants. In 2016, EPA added two other important water quality parameters as a pilot – E.coli and benthic macroinvertebrates.

Approximately 20 volunteers collected samples from 21 locations throughout the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed for analysis for Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common fecal bacteria found in sewage and animal waste. Each participant set up a test to measure E.coli that does not require any equipment and can be incubated at room temperature, called a Compartment Bag Test (CBT), which has everything required to measure E.coli in one small kit. EPA and SJBEP personnel took split samples of the volunteer samples and measured a more rigorous test for E. coli to compare results. The objective was to test the CBT method to see if it can differentiate between low, moderate and high levels of E.coli. Since rapid tests, like the CBT, are simple to conduct and require no laboratory equipment, they allow citizen scientists to screen their drinking water and ambient water for relative levels of fecal bacteria more readily. If successful, the CBT may be turned into a kit and provided on a wider scale for next year’s monitoring event."

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One final example: (4) Citizen Science Water Quality Mapping - Kansas State University- A Natural Science & Environmental Monitoring Capstone Project: Advised by: Shawn Hutchinson, PhD. Associate Professor of Geography 18 December 2013 "The purpose of this project was to build a public participation digital mapping for use by citizens to monitor and record water quality in their area, as a part of a Citizen Science initiative. Citizen Science is the gathering and testing of data prepared by non-professionals. For this project, water quality was tested throughout different points in, or near, Manhattan, KS. Pollutant levels and water properties including nitrate, phosphate, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH were measured to characterize overall water quality. Geographic information system (GIS) software was used to map and analyze the data. An Adobe Flex-based Web mapping application was created using Internet map and geoprocessing services developed for the project. Interested users can access the data, in map form, perform additional tasks using an Internet browser. Results from analysis of the water quality data and contributing watershed characteristics revealed several interesting relationships. Developed land decreased the turbidity, whereas, all other land types increased turbidity. For other pollutants, as the total area of developed land increased, there was a decrease in pollutants. This decreasing trend ran counter to the initial assumption that developed land would be a source of pollutants. However, preliminary results showed that landcover types such as grasslands, agriculture land, and forests contributed more to pollution loads. These results were derived from only a small number of data points (n = 19) collected over a short time frame (approximately 2 months). Collecting additional sample data over a longer time period will improve the assessment of Manhattan’s water quality." Submitted by: Grant Brady Biological Systems Engineering Brett Wilkinson Biological Systems Engineering Adam Bennett Park Management & Conservation Katie Rohling Agricultural Communication & Journalism Kyle Stropes Agronomy Tyler Vollick Geography

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