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Does increased precipitation affect the water quality of Norwalk Creek

Student(s):Students of Marcy Burns
Grade Level:Upper Primary (grades 3-5, ages 8-11)
GLOBE Educator(s):Marcy Burns
Contributors:Hayden Barnes Lillie Beers Geovanni Blair Joe Borgia Jack Bowles Jesse Copenhaver Zachary Crane Braiden Culver Amber Dellinger Claira Doll Quinn Jaworski Jadon Magee Kayle Mowry Sam Neuberger Alicia Orwig Caroline Pawlicki Ben Penrose Allison Reed Dylan Rickert Isabella Shipman Haleigh Skinner Tony Snyder Mitchell Sommers Ryan Sowders Stephen Wetzel Davis Wilkinson Lance Young
Report Type(s):
Protocols:Nitrates, Conductivity, Air Temperature, Precipitation, pH, Clouds
Date Submitted:05/01/2013
Screen capture from presentation
Norwalk Creek flows through our small city. During the past thirty years the annual average precipitation has increased. There has been an increase in the incidents of flooding because of heavy rainfalls. We wanted to find out if runoff from precipitation affects the quality of the water in Norwalk Creek. We hypothesized that runoff would have a negative effect on the water in the stream. Water samples were collected on the east side of the city and the west side for four weeks and tested for pH, nitrate-nitrogen, and conductivity. After looking carefully at the data, we concluded that pH and nitrate-nitrogen were not affected very much by runoff. Conductivity increased after the roads were salted. Additional testing is needed during the spring, summer, and fall seasons to get a better picture of how runoff may affect the water quality in Norwalk Creek.


Interesting study - thank you for sharing! What surprised you the most about your research on this project?

Have you thought about looking at macroinvertibrates at your two collection sites? What do you think would be a good research question to try to answer?
My name is Ryan. We discussed your questions today.
The thing that surprised us the most was that our climate is getting wetter. We were also surprised that runoff did not affect the water quality except for road salt.
We did look at the macroinvertibrates last October on East Elm Street. They indicated that the water quality was fair. We had to keep the macros separated because they kept eating each other before we could count them.
We would like to look at water quality in different seasons. We would also like to look at the macros at different times of the year too. We can walk to East Elm Street from our school. The West Elm Street site is far away so using leaf pack would be the way to go instead of the kick net.
Thank you so much for the very nice project! I'm very impressed with your analysis, and the creative and thorough approaches you took to create and answer you research question! Great job! A few questions:

1) Did you consider collecting your own precipitation data to compare with the measurements?
2) Do you know how the water runs off across the business district (i.e. would you expect more of an impact at one of your measurements sites versus the other)?
3) Are there any other water quality variables that you think might have been impacted by the city runoff that you were unable to test?
We did not consider collecting our own precipitation data because we do not have a good place at our school for a rain gauge. We do measure snow depth (when we get it).
We expected the water quality of the West Elm Street site to have poor quality because it is after the business district. The conductivity was a lot higher after the roads were salted after the creek passed through the business district.
We could also look at how much salt is in the water, turbidity, and how fast the water is flowing.
Thanks for addressing my questions Main Street School, and thank you all for a great project!
Hello Main Street School 5th Grade Class!
Interesting study. It's great to see that you noticed that collecting data at different locations and times of day could potentially affect the data. You wrote in your report that collecting data durineg different seasons would provide data not necessarily related to road salt. However, it could provide a picture of runoff in general.
Good job, keep up the good work!