This websites allows the 8th grade class to study two of the major creeks in West Asheville: Buttermilk Creek and Rhododendron Creek, and post information about their findings for the greater community. These two creeks feed the French Broad, the third oldest river in the world. Whatever actions we take in West Asheville affects the water quality in The French Broad.
On this site you will find qualitative and quantitative data on Buttermilk Creek and Rhododendron Creek. We presented information this way so that people will understand that water quality issues encompass the worlds of science, recreation and everything in between.
On this site you will also find links to information about what you can do to improve the water quality in these two creeks. If you implement one of these strategies at your house or business, we encourage you to contact us and let us know what you did and why you did it.
Location: West Asheville Park
Test: Dissolved Oxygen
What We Tested And Why:
We tested the dissolved oxygen level in Rhododendron creek, before and after the pipe and the creek feeder. We test this because a good amount of oxygen in our water is a sign that’s its healthy or clean. A lack of oxygen is a sign of severe pollution, and can lead to less aquatic life.
Acceptance Levels in a Healthy Creek:
|Less than 4 mg/L||Bad|
|4 – 10 mg/L||Good|
|More than 10 mg/L||Excellent|
1) Fill a dissolved oxygen bottle with the water you want to test.
2) Add magnesium sulfate (2 ml) and Alkali-Iodide-Azide (2 ml) to the bottle. Stopper on the bottle and shake carefully. Let it set until the upper half is clear, then shake again. Make sure there are no air bubbles. This should look like a brownish orange.
3) Add 2 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid.
4) Titrate the solution with sodium thiosulfate, and continue doing this until the solution turns completely clear.
5) Each ml of thiosulfate used to make the solution clear, is equal to 1 mg/l of dissolved oxygen. Use the amount of thiosulfate to decide the amount of dissolved oxygen.
May 11th, 2011 5/11/11
Water Quality : Rhododendron Creek (Before Big Pipe)
- Building construction is nearby and that is obviously polluting the creek nearby, things like debris from building the houses and household litter find its way down to the creek. Despite that, aquatic life seems to be everywhere, we found two crayfish and a bunch of minnows around the area. This observation was done before the big pipe.
Water Quality : Creek Feeder
- Along the side of this tiny area were traces of litter and their is a lunch area nearby, so this could be the cause of this pollution. In the water itself is a TON of sediment from what I’ve seen, and they seem to gather around in the relatively large parts of the little feeder. From what I can tell I see no aquatic life besides a dead worm who probably has never even been in the water until now.
Water Quality : Rhododendron Creek (After Big Pipe)
- Even though we are past the big pipe now, aquatic life is still everywhere, minnows and crayfish hide from us as we pass down the creek. A little ways down the creek and I found a big slab of concrete accompanied by a shoe, a soda can, and a ranch dressing container. Even though the construction area is fairly away, the pollution of it managed to reach here, and probably farther.
- Matthew Amos
Friday, May 20th 2011. West Asheville Park; pH testing.
Erin, Jaron, and Mara tested the pH of Rhododendron Creek. pH is a measure of the acidity or basidity of water, which is important to know because pH affects the solubility and the amount of life in the water. It also affects the function of virtually all enzymes, hormones, and other proteins. A water pH less than 5 is too acidic for human consumption or supporting aquatic life, and a pH greater than 9 can dissolve organic materials.
Feeder Creek (A)
pH strip: 5.333
Average: 5.9915; fair
pH chemical: 6.65
Rhododendron Before Pipe (B)
pH strip : 5
Average: 5.5; fair
pH chemical : 6
Rhododendron After Pipe
pH strip: 5.666
Average: 6.2205; good
pH chemical: 6.775
Our averaged pH for the different sites is very similar, and doesn’t show enough difference to cause concern but there is room for improvment.
The water is clear for the most part. There are traces of sediment and a film on a small part of the water. Vegetation was practically growing in the water. The water was cold but not too much. I couldn’t find any obvious life. It has an acidic PH and a high turbity. I don’t this it has very healthy water.
Rhododendron Creek Pipe (before):
There seemed to be a lot of trash and sediment at first glance. We found wrappers, plastic and even a shoe. The water wasn’t that cold, and I could walk in it. My feet would toss up sediment that sunk to the bottom that I didn’t notice before. there was landscaping net around the banks of the river. It took a couple minutes before I started noticing all the life. There were tadpoles and minnows swimming around, and an algae or a type of moss on the rocks. There wasn’t that much though. Then, I found a crayfish and got to catch it. It was medium sized and black. When I let it go, I immediatly found another one. This time, it was small, soft and light in color. Rhododendron creek also has a high oxidation which is important for sustaining life. The banks had invasive plants, which organisms cannot eat, but it had plenty of tall grass that acts as a riparian buffer, catching any run off pollution.
(NTU: Nephelometric Turbidity Units)
Feeder Creek: 5.81 NTU’s
Before Pipe Rhododendron Creek: 1.77 NTU’s
After Pipe Rhododendron Creek: 4 1/3 NTU’s
What did you test? Why?
We tested the turbidity which measures the amount of suspended materials in the water. The reason we test turbidity is because it shows you the water quality for the aquatic life and health for human consumption. Turbidity is the cloudiness of the water due to suspended materials.
What are the acceptable levels for a healthy creek?
The U.S. Government has standards for the turbidity of drinking water, it must be under 1 NTU. A healthy creek needs a relatively low turbidity. Plants need their water to have a value of fewer than 5 NTU’s to carry out photosynthesis.
What did you see?
On Friday we saw the Rhododendron creek and its feeder. We learned about the plants around the park and how they effect the creeks environment. We saw the pollution around the park and creek and ran the water through many tests to find out how healthy it was. We also learned more about the water cycle and how it works. We saw the environment around the creek and learned how its environment affected it.
Only in the feeder creek was the waters average higher than 5 NTU’s which makes the water unhealthy for plants to carry out photosynthesis correctly. In the other creek before and after the pipe the turbidity was healthy but the water was not safe to drink. In our opinion the before and after pipe creeks are pretty healthy for plants, and all of the creeks were unhealthy for humans.
- Feeder Creek-
33.3 ppm’s (Average)
- Before Pipe-
40 ppm’s (Average)
- After Pipe-
46.6 ppm’s (Average)
We tested the Alkalinity and many more tests of the creek. Alkalinity helps prevent drastic changes in pH and finding the alkalinity is the method of finding how acidic or basic water is. PH is the analysis of acidity in a solution which can be water or soil. In order to find the alkalinity of a river or form of water, it is possible to either test for an estimate or a an exact value, but there invovles chemicals and special arrangments in the lab. We used not the most accurate value, but the estimate, which we used test strips. After our work, we took all of our calculations and found the average of them, using the mean, still leaving it in the form of ppm’s. We did this to compare data from previous years of testing before us. Safe Alkalinity ranges from 20 ppm’s to 200 ppm’s. We tested to make sure that our water sources were not too dramatically poor to support life. We have seen an improvement and conclude that with help, it will keep improving. As a hope, we want it to become better and sustain more life. As today, the Lake Calumet region of southeast Chicago where the water can reach extraordinary alkalinity of pH 12.8. That’s comparable to caustic soda and floor strippers — far beyond known naturally occurring alkaline environment.The closest known relatives of some of the microbes are in South Africa, Greenland and the alkaline waters of Mono Lake, California. Also found in Mono Lake, a discovery that will shock u- bacteria that not only shrug off arsenic’s toxic effects, but positively thrive on it. They can even incorporate the poisonous element into their proteins and DNA, using it in place of phosphorus.
We hope that our rivers become more sustainable for life and are able to fight against our pollutional life.