World Water Monitoring Day

July 31, 2014
Elissa Reineck
How You Can Help

Ah, back to school time.  Many parents in Howard County are doing dances of joy or are dreading the things that come with it like waking up grumpy kids, nagging over homework, etc.  So I want to get to you all while you are still eager and fresh to recommend an activity that is easy to do in a school setting, or on your own.

World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) is an international program for volunteers to test local water and report the results.  It is easy and educational in so many ways.  Basically, you buy a kit online that comes with simple instructions and equipment for 4 tests – pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and temperature.  OK, maybe that sounds hard, but I promise that it’s not.  Dissolved oxygen and pH are done by putting little tablets into the provided tubes.  Turbidity is done by putting the water in a plastic can and observing a black and white sticker at the bottom.  Temperature is done with a plastic strip that turns different shades on the numbered degrees.  I actually prefer using one of those cooking thermometers where the metal part that goes into the food is on a wire connected to a digital meter.   Or, you could email me and I can probably borrow a thermometer on a string for you.  You do not have to buy the official WWMD kit, you can use your own equipment, but the basic kit is less than $20, including shipping.

This is a great activity for a classroom.  I have done it with a math class and we turned it into a statistics lesson.  Remember mean, median, and mode?  I have also used the WWMD kit as a demonstration for a GT class that was later going to monitor a local stream.  There was no stream on the school property, so we practiced doing the tests on some water I brought in.

This activity can also be a social studies or geography lesson, because the next part of WWMD is really cool.  Once the tests are done, you log on to the website and enter the data.  People all around the world are doing the same thing-  340,000 people last year in 77 countries.  This is great for students, adults, Scouts, anyone interested in finding out more about their local water and water around the world.

World Water Monitoring Day is officially September 18, but you can do it anytime until the end of the calendar year.  And it will start up again next March and run though the rest of 2013.

I highly recommend it, and contact me if you want more details.  I can even help you find out if there is a stream on your school’s property.

Elissa Reineck
Environmental Volunteer Coordinator
ereineck@howardcountymd.gov