Exploring Urban Water Quality with The Green Jobs Crew

Technically, it has been spring here in Lawrence for a few weeks, but it is FINALLY beginning to feel like it. Birds are beginning to sing, and some early migrants are returning from a winter spent further south. Along with the warmer weather comes a new season of outdoor events and service opportunities with Groundwork Lawrence! Earth Day is right around the corner, and we will begin our Baseline Water Quality monitoring program on the Spicket River in just a few short weeks!size="2">

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Last week I had the opportunity to spend the day with Groundwork Lawrence’s Green Jobs crew talking about our fledgling water monitoring program, and the types of problems and pollutants associated with urban watersheds like the Spicket. After a morning spent in the classroom learning about storm water runoff, CSOs, and some of the other issues faced by urban rivers, we went out to explore some spots along the river. We walked the Spicket River Greenway, tested the pH of water in a runoff retention pond, and saw some of the storm water mitigation efforts designed into the Greenway. size="2">

First thing in the morning, before we began, I asked the students what they thought the water quality of the Spicket was: “dirty” was the nearly universal response. Once we got out there, and they saw that the water looked clear, and the pH was normal, their thoughts on the river began to shift. As we begin testing the water this April we may find that the quality isn’t quite as bad as people may think!size="2">