For this challenge, you will explore ways to improve our water quality by studying factors that affect stream health.
Did you ever wonder where our drinking water comes from? Or why we should worry about stream pollution? How do we know when a stream is healthy? In this challenge, you will learn what factors affect stream health. What could you do, invent, or innovate to help reduce water/stream pollution? Could it be a clever way to reuse plastics, a method to reduce the use of fertilizers, or something to keep polluted runoff from getting into streams?
Watch the video below to get a better understanding of where our drinking water comes from.
You Will Explore
You Will Create
- A method, invention, prototype to help reduce pollution related to stream health/water quality.
- A short video or images (Max. 1:30 minutes) that explains what you made.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
Runoff and Pollution
Scientists and environmental managers break pollution into two categories: point source and nonpoint source pollution. Direct contamination of waterways, such as industrial waste pouring from a factory drain into a river, is an example of point source pollution. Pollutants such as motor oil leaked on parking lots, plastic grocery bags, pesticides, fertilizers, detergents, and sediments are known as nonpoint source pollutants.
Stormwater runoff from nonpoint source pollution is one of the most significant threats to aquatic ecosystems in the United States. As water runs over and through the watershed, it picks up and carries contaminants and soil. If untreated, these pollutants wash directly into waterways carried by runoff from rain and snowmelt. These contaminants can infiltrate groundwater and concentrate in streams and rivers, ultimately being carried down the watershed and into the ocean. Nonpoint source pollution is linked to the formation of large dead zones (areas with minimal oxygen) in the ocean and also threatens coral reef ecosystems around the world.
Additional Stream Health and Watershed resources
- All About Macroinvertebrates – https://www.macroinvertebrates.org/
- Model My Watershed – https://www.macroinvertebrates.org/
- PA Department of Environmental Protection (Macroinvertebrates) – https://gis.dep.pa.gov/macroinvertebrate/index.html
- What Watershed Do You Live In? – https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/JustForKids/Water/Watershed/Pages/Live.aspx