Testing Water Quality in Tierra Amarilla

Chemistry is an important basis for learning about water quality, and now that our students in Tierra Amarilla are familiar with the basics, we decided to add water quality testing to our scientific agenda.

NMWC uses Vernier water quality probes and has a Project Quality Assurance Project Plan (PQAPP) in place with New Mexico Environment Department’s Surface Water Quality Bureau so that our data can be submitted to the state for monitoring purposes.

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A student tests the pH of the water
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Testing the level of nitrates in the water
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Testing the level of dissolved oxygen in the water as the data recorder waits for a number to record

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While half of the class was testing water quality, the other half donned their waders and set off into the Rio Chama to survey benthic macroinvertebrates.

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After collecting benthic macroinvertebrates, students brought their sample back to shore. We selected a few specimens to examine up close and saved the rest for counting.

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Students use a dichotomous key to identify these invertebrates.

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We had a very productive day of data collection, and we ended by asking these young scientists to summarize our results. We’ll continue to monitor this location as seasons change to gain a better idea of how healthy this river is during different parts of the year.

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