Today’s blog post was authored by Vianey Miramontes, senior.
This past Tuesday, 9 students from the Middletown Campus visited Blandy Experimental Farm to do some hardcore investigation of the water quality around the facility.
They visited local streams and tributaries that all feed into the Shenandoah, which feeds into the Potomac, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay…which is pretty important, for all of us.
The team at Blandy set up at three different locations to examine the different streams and try to figure out why the 3.7 mile tributary, Spout Run, is listed as an “impaired stream.” This is no bueno for the locals because the many uses of the tributary including fishing, swimming and other recreational activities.
The area is also a great learning environment for students at Powhatan School who use this tributary to learn about Earth Science and to cool off and play in as well, and its important to make sure these bright kids have the best tool for learning at their disposal: nature.
The students from Middletown investigated the quality of the watershed by classifying the types of macroinvertebrates found in the water, which are helpful because they are sensitive to a certain range of quality of water. In other words, based on the types of critters you find, you can tell how the water is doing. Other important factors included the speed of water flow, the turbidity of the water, and pH Testing with some sweet expired chemistry kits.
Students also were engaged in some critical thinking to think about other factors by doing a site analysis. They took topographical maps and examined all the surrounding buildings and took those factors into count. What they concluded was that there were significant changes in the water quality as the stream passed through the town of Millwood, but not by dangerous levels, just enough to be changed in classification from “Very Good” to just “Good”. It is still important to try to pinpoint the cause of this change.
What the teams concluded was that the historic town of Millwood may need some renovating. The Blandy team, armed with their vast knowledge and wisdom, led us on to their conclusion that the septic systems of Millwood may be negatively affecting the water.
The goal here was not to learn how to use chemistry water test kits, but to find the source of the problem. The dedicated few who were brave enough to traverse the dangerous 2-feet-deep waters definitely took a lot from the trip and some pretty sweet memories were made, making the trip totally worth it.
Additional information about the trip and pictures from the trip can be found at the Blandy Downstream Project website.