Our Water Morality

Hello again! My name is Regina Whitfield; I was a house member of the Sustainability House last year and have returned a final year!

Like last September, I have once more focused upon water and its’ use within our home. And, rather than blog about ways one can change or reduce water use, I will instead discuss water on a local and more relative level.

Over the summer, I had the unique opportunity to work at Stroud Water Research Center (SWRC). For those who don’t know, this is a leading, freshwater research facility located in Avondale, PA (along the PA-DE border). It was established in 1967,  when W.B. Dixon and Joann Stroud were urged by Ruth Patrick to dedicate an entire facility for the study of our water- this was around the time that Clean Water Act came into play.  Today, SWRC is shared by many scientists who work (live) to preserve our local waters. Departments include: Geochemistry, Education, Entomology, Restoration, etc.

Myself and peer students, from other colleges, spent our summer in the Entomology department! Here, we sorted through stream samples that had been collected from several sites, in the Delaware Basin watershed, during the spring. We viewed these samples under a dissecting microscope and picked out a minimum of 220 benthic macro-invertebrates (aka bugs that live under water). Certain species present within a sample were bio-indicators of a healthy water body (Mayfly, Ephemeroptera;  Stonefly, Plecoptera; Caddisfly, Trichoptera). After about 8 weeks, we crunched the numbers and presented our findings to the Stroud community.

Our findings were reflective of the restoration efforts Stroud had consistently worked for over the years. Some sites are consistently healthy, like the White Clay Creek, while other sites decreased significantly towards poor health. Because believe it or not, just because the Clean Water Act is in place, doesn’t mean that people know (or care).

For instance, SWRC is located around plenty of horse farms. These farms often have a small stream running through that cattle often muck up. The River Continuum Concept says that whatever happens upstream, affects everything down stream (or trophic relay). And sometimes it’s too much money to fix what is broken, but most times it’s the lack of education that could have prevented these situations entirely.

This is where departments like Restoration educate and collaborate with local farmers. Meanwhile, Education teaches children in grade school about the importance and aspects of water (which is fantastic, we should be teaching our youth)!

I’m very happy to have learned and worked at SWRC. It was incredible to see a group of people be involved with their community and be passionate in their mission for the protection of our waters.

I hope this discussion will help with our ideals concerning water. Because if it’s out of sight, it’s also definitely out of mind (consider how water comes out of the faucet and right down the drain). Perhaps we can take a moment to learn about local watershed(s) and hardcore restoration efforts (i.e. Schuylkill River), then when we pass by a stream or a river, we simply can’t ignore our impact.

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