Friday, January 19, 2007

Water Quality

Today, quarterly macroinvertebrate samples and water samples were collected at the Francis Beidler Forest. The macroinvertebrate samples will be picked through this weekend and the collected organisms will be sent to Dr. John Morse, Clemson University, as part of his 29-year study. The following data is collected for the water samples: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, hardness, turbidity, phosphates, nitates, and nitrites. The image shows the dissolved oxygen test in progress.

Both the macroinvertebrate inventory and the chemical water tests provide the staff at FBF with water quality information. The macroinvertebrate inventory provides qualitative results while the chemical testing provides quantitative results. Depending on the number and species of macroinvertebrates present, the staff can determine if the water quality is poor to excellent. Some species are very tolerant of pollution while other species are quite intolerant of pollution. Therefore, a large quantity of pollution-tolerant organisms in the absence of pollution-intolerant organisms would indicate poor water quality. Chemical testing of the water provides quanitative results such as today's Goodson Lake data: 7.0 degrees Celcius, 7.0 pH, and 10 mg/L dissolved oxygen. Obviously, if the water is too acidic or too basic, many organisms cannot survive. Aquatic organisms require oxygen, like terrestrial organisms, though they obtain the oxygen from the water instead of the air.

The water in the Francis Beidler Forest portion of Four Holes Swamp remains high-quality though E. coli is an issue in the upper reaches of the swamp near urban centers.

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