Testing the Water
When the Eastern Shore town of Easton asked for an analysis of the Tanyard Branch watershed, Washington College partnered with the Midshore RiverKeeper Conservancy to complete this project. Sam Hartman ’13 and Christian Krahforst, a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, took on the challenge.
The objective was to identify factors that contribute pollutant loads to the Tanyard Branch watershed and observe water quality, comparing data to local and national standards. In this way, any critically failing areas of the watershed could be determined.
Data suggested that high levels of bacteria may be a significant problem in the Tanyard Branch watershed. Almost all of the enterococci standards were exceeded, indicating an unhealthy level of pathogens in the water. TSS (total suspended solids), as well as DO (dissolved oxygen) content and pH levels, were well below standard levels.
This summer research project has proven to be extremely beneficial to the town of Easton.
“The high amount of indicator bacteria in the watershed could be problematic for residents of the town of Easton, especially those at more critical risk or who have prolonged exposure,” notes Hartman. “Our results suggest further evaluation of the source of bacteria in the Tanyard Branch. Data from this effort will be used to design implementation measures to improve water quality, such as natural water filtration systems or rain barrels and surface sand filters.”