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NEWS | Dec. 1, 2017

Environmental Science Students Conduct Stream Study at NSGB Beaches

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Monique K. Meeks Naval Station Guantanamo Bay

Students from W.T. Sampson School's Environmental Science class, in partnership with Public Works Department's (PWD) Environmental division, conducted a stream study at Cuzco Beach, Nov. 30.

Cuzco Beach is one of the most untouched beaches at NSGB due to its remote, off-limits location. During the trip, students were able to not only conduct the required tests for their stream study but also viewed sea turtle beds and assisted PWD Environmental with a beach clean-up.

While in Guantanamo Bay, students are privileged to be surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, various elements, such as pollution that washes up on our beaches, can still affect water quality. 

Deidra Faulkner, the class teacher, noted that the students are conducting tests not only at Cuzco Beach, but also at Ferry Landing, Windmill Beach and other locations as well, to get a good sampling of the various areas of the coastline. 

The four high school seniors that took part in the field trip for the Environmental Science class were very focused on their work from the moment they arrived at the beach and quickly got started on their testing. 

During the field trip, the students conducted a preliminary activity using a dissolved oxygen probe to measure the concentration of dissolved oxygen in a water sample provided by their teacher and then used that result to determine the percent saturation of dissolved oxygen. 

They also gained experience using a temperature probe, a conductivity probe, a turbidity sensor and a pH sensor. In the experiment, they performed five core water quality index tests: temperature change, dissolved oxygen, pH, total dissolved solids and turbidity.

The students used a modified version of the National Sanitation Foundation's Water Quality Index Worksheet for the five tests to determine the general quality of the water source being sampled. 

After completing the preliminary activity, the students returned to the classroom to use reference resources to find out more about water quality issues so they could then choose and investigate a researchable question dealing with water quality.

The Water Quality Index (WQI) was developed in the early 1970's by the National Sanitation Foundation, in cooperation with over 100 water quality experts, as a standard index for measuring water quality. The WQI consists of nine tests to determine water quality. These tests are; temperature, pH, turbidity, total solids, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, phosphates, nitrate, and fecal coliform.

A table or graph for each of the nine tests indicates the water quality value (or Q-value) corresponding to the data obtained. Once the Q-value for a test has been determined, it is multiplied by a weighting factor. Each of the tests is weighted based on its relative importance to overall water quality. The resulting values for all nine tests are totaled and used to gauge the health of the water source as excellent, good, medium or average, fair or poor.