Pat & Forrest help Coastal Carolina University monitor Water Quality in the Waccamaw River

Coastal Carolina University has a wonderful program to preserve the Waccamaw River called the Waccamaw Watershed Academy. One part of that effort is called The Waccamaw River Volunteer Monitoring Project. This involves a team of over 30 volunteers who sample water quality every two weeks at 10 locations along the Waccamaw River. You can read the complete list of project objectives at the previous link. The two that we are particularly interested in are detecting illegal discharges or spills and the development of specific water quality standards.

UPDATE: October 2014. We no longer participate in the sampling but treasure our years of service and continue to admire the effort. The information below describes our participation. The people mentioned in the update of March 2013 (below) have probably passed their responsibilities on to others as well.

UPDATE: March 2012. Pat dropped out after five years and Forrest transferred to the Sampit River group because they were shorthanded. Thanks to the people who took over at Hagley Landing! Dave Hastings is the lead Master Sampler for Sampit River and does the calibration the day before each sampling date. In addition to helping with the "core" measurements, Forrest does Turbidity. A new measurment was added shortly after the original page was written. Each group also measures bacteria such as Ecoli in the water. Bill Brabson does this for our Sampit River group.
Pat and Forrest sample at "Hagley's Landing" which is about 2 miles downstream from their home in Heritage Plantation. Their results, along with others for the whole effort, are available from the water monitoring website as Data. You have work at it a little. Choose a site and then choose which data you would like to see.

(Forrest helped write the program which displays the data so he thinks it is 'kinda neat'.)

Pat and Forrest are "Master Samplers" for their group. This means that they calibrate the equipment used for measurements and Hagley Landing and Sampit River plus they measure the turbidity for water samples taken at those locations. They then participate in the water monitoring at Hagley Landing with several other wonderful team members.

Here is a picture of the two meters used for on-site measurements of Conductivity/Dissolved Solids, Dissolved Oxygen and pH.

This is the "expensive stuff". It is accompanied by a bucket full of "smaller stuff" which conspires to make the procedures time consuming. To name a few; de-ionized water, Kim-wipes, standard solutions to test the equipment calibration just before the actual measurements and a chemical strips to measure the levels of Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate.

We both wish we could remember more about those introductory chemistry classes!
Two Meters
The second part of the story is the measurement of turbidity. Samples are taken at Hagley Landing and Sampit River and transported home where we make the acutal measurements. They are transported in coolers surrounded by ice. This is apparently standard protocol for these types of environmental measurements. Kristen follows the same protocol with her environmental work at Kerameda whenever measurements are done off-site.

Pat and Forrest religously follow their directions but 'giggle' a bit because we get the samples homes almost before they cool down. On the other hand, we feel very 'professional' even though our real professional life is well behind us. Maybe that helps keep us young.

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