Apr 272011

Photo by Naomi Hatch After the water was collected, eight groups of students tested the water, comparing four parameters. Testing the water are (left to right) Snowflake Intermediate School fifth graders Lynnette Chapman, Gage Gabaldon, Michael Buckley and Maxine McRichie, and Byron James, community liaison for the Northern Regional Office of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

By Naomi Hatch —

Snowflake Intermediate School students worked as junior hydrologists recently as they celebrated Earth Day by testing the water of the Silver Creek with representatives of the Arizona Department of Environ-mental Quality (ADEQ). Those participating are members of Donna Porras’ fourth grade class and Kelly Mortensen’s fifth grade class.

This was one of the activities conducted during Earth Month by ADEQ.

“Watershed events like this in the Snowflake-Taylor area and throughout the state increase environ-mental awareness and help students of all ages protect public health year-round,” said ADEQ Director Henry Darwin.

Darren Svevsvold and Susan Dutermann, both of ADEQ’s Water Quality Division, and Byron James, community liaison for the ADEQ’s Northern Regional Office, helped eight groups of students collect data.

On March 18, Svevsvold and Dutermann were at Snowflake Intermediate School with a watershed model that demonstrated how the stream is affected by using powdered cocoa and a powdered drink mix to represent the different areas of the watershed.

“…(I)t’s a great adventure for the kids, they learn a lot and it’s very photogenic. This is a major effort on the part of our agency in that we will have two of our hydrologists who do water quality testing in rivers and lakes around the state, one of our water quality experts who works in Children’s Environmental Health divi-sion, and Byron James, our community liaison from St. Johns, in attendance,” said ADEQ Communications Director Mark Shaffer.

Professionals were on hand to show students how important the role of monitoring is in protecting water quality.

Students were divided into groups of 10 and provided with test kits from an organization called World Water Monitoring Day. They tested four parameters, including turbidity (how cloudy the water is), tempera-ture (both air and water), dissolved oxygen (if there is a lot of oxygen in the water it is an indicator of healthy water) and pH balance.

Water was tested at the Silver Creek crossing on Cattle Lane and at the head of the Silver Creek, and students compared the water based on those four parameters “to find if urbanization contributes to water quality,” according to James.

The students also toured the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s hatchery at Silver Creek.

James will put the findings into a database and it will be online at www.worldwatermonitoringday.org, as will be the findings from other projects from around the world.