What is in your water?

Do you ever wonder what is really coming out of the faucet when you turn on your water?  If you participate in World Water Monitoring Day on September 18, you will be one step closer to finding out!  World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that protects the quality of local water resources around the world by enlisting citizen volunteers to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.  This project is organized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA), and they hope to expand participation to one million people in 100 countries by 2012.

Though there are celebrations being held in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta this year on September 18, anyone can organize their own event right in their neighborhood.  An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for a core set of water quality parameters including temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO). Each test kit, which is recommended to be used in a group of no more than 5-10 people, contains:

  • 1 Instruction booklet (English/Spanish)
  • 1 Sample collection jar
  • 1 pH test tube
  • 1 Dissolved oxygen vial
  • 1 Secchi disk decal
  • 2 Temperature strips (14-40°C and 0-12°C)
  • 50 pH reagent tablets (enough for 50 tests)
  • 100 Dissolved oxygen reagent tablets (enough for 50 tests)
  • 1 Color chart for determining DO, pH and turbidity test results
  • 1 Mini pencil
  • 1 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

The results of the study are then reported through the World Water Monitoring Day website. Though World Water Monitoring Day is officially celebrated on September 18, the monitoring window has extended for the first time this year from March 22 (World Water Day) until December 31. Participants are encouraged to celebrate anytime during the extended window, making this a perfect project for classrooms this fall!  (All the materials are even included, so schools and/or their teachers will not have to shell out extra dollars for supplies.)

PROJECT SNAPSHOT:

  • Topics: water, analytical chemistry
  • Location: at home, close to home
  • Duration: until December 31, but if you are going to a local river or stream, probably in the warmer months!
  • Cost: free
  • Gear:  A test kit, which you can order here
  • Level of Difficulty: easy