Water Quality on the Brazos and Chama

Our trip to Tierra Amarilla last week to work with our 5th and 6th grade River Classroom was particularly exciting because for the very first time we tested water quality on both the Brazos and the Chama on the same day!

We began with a short refresher on water quality parameters.

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Discussing water quality

We began at the Brazos, where students also held a contest to see who could make it to the river and back (with water samples) without making a sound.

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We found some neat tracks on the way to the river.

After collecting our samples (and measuring water temperature on-site), we returned to our mobile field lab to test pH, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and nitrates.

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Testing a sample
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Testing a different sample
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Testing turbidity

After testing the Brazos, we loaded the kids back on the bus and headed to the Rio Chama. The Brazos is a tributary of the Chama. Understanding the water quality in both rivers is crucial to understanding the Rio Chama watershed.

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Checking out the ice on the Rio Chama

The results of our water quality tests were really interesting. In terms of temperature, DO, and pH, both rivers were similar (although a pond near the Brazos had a considerably lower DO). The Rio Chama had a higher turbidity and conductivity, and the level of nitrates was double that in the Brazos. These results brought up some interesting questions from the students, and we had a discussion about factors that influence water quality.

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Discussing factors that affect turbidity, conductivity, and nitrates on the different rivers

We’ll continue monitoring these rivers throughout the year to see how water quality changes with the season.

Christy

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