Guest Post: Testing Parkinson's Stream

by Cherish Coffindaffer

For my ecology class, we wanted to use what we were learning and apply it to do some good in our community. The main objective of this project was for students to determine if Parkinson’s Run Stream is in a relatively pristine condition. To make this conclusion, several aspects of the water and its surroundings were observed. Physical attributes taken into consideration were things such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. Conductivity is the measure of the water's capability to pass electrical flow and is directly related to the concentration of ions in the water. The two biological attributes were the different types of vertebrate and invertebrate species and the number of each type found in the specific plotted areas of the stream. We also turned it into a clean-up and collected any and all trash that we found while collecting our data.

The stream on Parkinson’s Run in Bethany, WV was tested on September 11, 2017 between the times of 13:25 and 15:50. The weather was partly cloudy and 22°C. In the three days prior to the testing, the weather had also been cloudy with no rain and the temperatures were moderate with highs around 22°C. The average width of the stream was 1.5 m and approximately 4 cm deep. The temperature of the water was 14.9°C, it had a pH of 8.5, the dissolved oxygen was 9.35 mg/L, and the conductivity was 525 µS. The flow rate was normal and the turbidity was clear.

Located below, in Tables 1 and 2, is an organized list of the invertebrates and vertebrates that were found in two different stream sites and their species/taxa. The table also has the number found of each the species and their pollution tolerance. In order to classify the tolerance levels for the organisms the “Pollution Tolerance Index” from the University of Notre Dame was used.

It was found that the physical attributes contributed to the observation that the overall condition of the stream was rather pristine. The largest variety of freshwater aquatic organisms prefer a pH range between the values of 6.5 and 8.5. The value measured from Parkinson’s Run Stream was 8.5. The dissolved oxygen is measured in mg/L and the range that is good for most all stream fish and aquatic organisms is between 7-11mg/L and our value was 9.35mg/L so that was very good. The temperature outside was around 22°C and the water temperature was about 14.9°C. Freshwater streams should ideally have a conductivity between 150 to 550 µS/cm to support diverse aquatic life and the value recorded for the Parkinson Stream was 525 µS which fell between the parameters. If the stream were polluted the pH value would either be way above or way below “neutral” parameters. The dissolved oxygen levels would be drastically low.

The living organisms found in the stream also reveal that the conditions are pristine because out of the 11 invertebrates found only 2 could truly withstand polluted environments. The majority of the invertebrates had very little tolerance for pollution. Mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies are great indicators that there is no pollution present in the stream.

We were all very pleased that our stream is in excellent condition and we were also able to remove various bottles, food wrappers, a couple tires and some old shoes. All living organisms were returned to their designated plots and what we could recycle, we did. Overall, the experience was very positive and we plan to do several more stream clean ups in the spring.

David WintersComment