Student Watershed Watch & Student Summit

On testing days in early October, more than 500 students from 17 schools spread out to area waterways in the first part of the Student Watershed Watch (SWW) program. In 2016, about 330 students participated. “Teachers are telling us that the algae problems in Lake Erie have created urgency in water quality studies,” said TMACOG Water Quality Planner Kari Gerwin.

Meredith Wolfe, Agricultural Technologies Teacher at Clay High School said, “{The SWW} is incredibly applicable to our students because we are right on the lake and they see the value and need for testing the water. It’s one thing to teach what phosphate is, it’s another to be able to apply it and have a hands-on application.”
On testing days, the teachers and some technical volunteers assist students with water sampling. Waterways sampled in 2017 include the Maumee, Ottawa, and Portage rivers, Swan Creek, and six other small tributaries. Students measure nutrients in the water including nitrogen and phosphorus, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. They note the depth and temperature of the water at the sampling site. They also collect macroinvertebrates – larvae, beetles, worms, crayfish and other living things that grow in the water and streambed. Students are often amazed to see the diversity of life in a stream that they have seen but never touched.

2017 is the twenty-eighth year for TMACOG’s Student Watershed Watch

Following field work, students will analyze their results. Looking at standards for evaluating water, they will rate the state of health of the waterway where they worked. In many cases, schools have data on the same sites going back many years.

On November 3, in a Student Summit held at the University of Toledo’s Scott Park Campus, many of these classrooms will present their findings both from a stage and in table top displays. The presentations are evaluated by a team of judges who recognize excellence with awards for Best Overall Presentation, Most Creative Presentation, and Most Informative Presentation.

The Student Watershed Watch is made possible with extensive public and private support. Thanks are due to the City of Toledo, Lucas County Stormwater Utility, First Solar, GM, and Perstorp Polyols. Additional support comes from Earth Force, the University of Toledo, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Students from Scott High School’s Advanced Placement class cleaned
up trash at their testing site on Swan Creek at Highland Park.

Preparing to measure depth and water velocity.

Pemberville Mayor Gordon Bowman meets with students from Eastwood.
The class of teacher Ethan Downey was at the Portage River for the
Student Watershed Watch.

Sylvania Northview Students at work on Ten Mile Creek.

Students from Beverly School, a Toledo Public elementary school,
at Delaware Creek.

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