Photo by Gabriel Santiago on Unsplash
Monitoring the quality of freshwater throughout Canada is now a little easier thanks to a portable water testing kit created by Water Rangers, a non-profit conservation organization in Ottawa.
The kit includes items such as a thermometer, pH test strips, and a guide book. It was created in hopes of getting everyday citizens involved with collecting data on the health of bodies of water throughout the country.
Professional water testing equipment is expensive and often difficult to use, so this new kit plays a significant role in getting the public involved with water monitoring.
“When I looked for ways to test the water at my cottage, I wasn’t happy with the equipment that was available, ” Kat Kavanagh, founder and executive director of Water Rangers said in a press release. “ We’re making a kit available for first-time users who don’t have a science background like campers, cottagers and community groups.”
Although the portable test kits developed by Water Rangers are cheaper and easier to use than professional kits, they still provide an accurate measure of water quality according to a study conducted at Carleton University in 2018.
The kits can be purchased online at the Water Rangers website or borrowed for free from a host in various cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Cornwall, and Prince Edward county.
Participants collect a kit, read the field guide, or watch the online instruction videos, and start collecting data. After testing the water, participants can upload their findings to the open-data map on the Water Rangers website using a smartphone app.
This project is important because Canada is home to a vast collection of freshwater habitats and there is currently a gap in our knowledge concerning the health of water throughout the country, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Watershed Report.
The portable kits allow citizens to conduct various assessments of water, including temperature, conductivity, and pH tests. These analyses are important for determining water quality for several reasons. First, changes in temperature can lead to an increase in plant and bacteria growth in the water, which can influence oxygen levels. Second, changes in conductivity can be an indicator for pollutants in the water, and changes in pH can indicate the presence of sewage or algae blooms, according to the Water Rangers website.
Photo by Austin Censor on Unsplash
Gathering data about the quality of water in different areas is also important because every body of water has a different composition, meaning normal test levels will vary between different regions. Therefore collecting a sufficient amount of data to create baselines for different bodies of water throughout the country is imperative when it comes to discovering problems within our water systems.
The Water Rangers website currently has over 20,000 observations recorded for various bodies of water throughout the world, creating a resourceful database of information about water quality worldwide.
Funding for this project was provided by WWF’S Loblaw Water Fund which offers grants to organizations in Canada working on projects that protect our water. The fund has provided grants for over 60 projects in the past five years.
By: Nicole Babb
Nicole Babb is an aspiring journalist from St. John’s, Newfoundland. She recently graduated from Carleton University with a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology. During her time at Carleton, Nicole wrote articles for the university’s student newspaper and completed a health reporting course which sparked her interest in science journalism and communication. She is passionate about writing and photography, and she also enjoys learning about new scientific research.
Growing up near the ocean, she has always been curious about marine life and she is especially interested in research and reporting concerning the ocean, climate change, and endangered species. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, canoeing, playing basketball and hiking. She also loves animals and spending time with her dog. Nicole is currently residing in Ottawa and she is looking forward to working as a volunteer for Science Writers and Communicators of Canada.