Why is it important to monitor the quality of fresh water sources?
In Australia, we rely on fresh water sources in many aspects of our lives, including fishing, agriculture and recreational purposes. Not only is water quality fundamental to humans, it can also affect animals and the environment around us. There are many factors that can have an impact on water quality, such as weather, pollution and other human activities. As such, it is essential that the water quality of fresh water sources is closely monitored and the impact that humans have on the results is well understood.
What parameters are indicators of water quality?
There are several key parameters for monitoring water quality including pH, conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, acidity, alkalinity, carbon dioxide, hardness, and nitrate. Each of these parameters must be maintained within a certain range to support plant growth and the metabolic reactions in the animals that live in and drink the water. For example, most fresh water organisms thrive in a pH between 6 and 8, therefore it important to maintain the pH within this range. Conversely, turbidity levels must be kept low in order to allow plants to grow, which provides a food source to the animals. A similar principle applies for all water quality parameters, which is why the water needs to be closely monitored, which can be done through scientific testing.
A technical consultant from Hanna Instruments visited a Laboratory Technician at a local secondary school. The school had just started running an environmental science subject for the year 10 students, however, they were unsure what practical classes they could run to give the students hands-on experience. The school was located around the corner from a local reserve which backed on to a flowing creek.
The technical consultant suggested the Backpack Lab Water Quality Test Kit (HI3817BP). The Water Quality Backpack Lab contained all of the tests kits and instrumentation required to test ten of the most important water quality parameters. Included in the Backpack were several test kits, including acidity, alkalinity, carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen, hardness, nitrate, and phosphate. The backpack also included a HI98129 Combo Tester for measuring pH, conductivity and total dissolved solids (TDS) as well as a Secchi Disk which allows turbidity to be tested. Because of all the parameters that could be tested with the HI3817BP, it meant that the whole class could be conducting experiments simultaneously, with no waiting around for equipment. The Laboratory Technician was most appreciative of the fact that all of the replacement reagents and solutions were available for each parameter, so there is no need to replace the whole kit when you they ran out. The Water Quality Backpack Lab was also supplied with comprehensive education material. This included lesson plans, with detailed field-testing procedures as well as a teacher’s manual that provided information on each parameter being tested. This was very helpful to the school who was still in the process of organising the content for the subject.
By Ashleigh Farrell
Hanna Instruments Australia Technical Consultant