The University of Georgia Costa Rica 2014-2015 Sustainability Report UGA Costa Rica 2014 - 2015 Sustainability Report - Page 44

Water Quality Research Additional factors monitored include phosphorous and nitrate levels, suspended solids, and biological oxygen demand. Water quantity and quality are threatened by factors such as deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, dumping of contaminants and drought conditions. Jade Woll During the summer of 2015, Jade Woll, from Lynchburg College, served as the water quality intern. Access to clean water is critical for the success of not only the San Luis community, but the entire Bellbird Biological Corridor. Within the Bellbird Biological Corridor (BBC), water quantity and quality are threatened by factors such as deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, dumping of contaminants, and drought conditions, which are expected to increase this century. One of the first steps for developing an integrated water resources management plant for the corridor is to study the existing conditions of the region’s water systems. Dr. Tom Shahady, a professor at Lynchburg College in Virginia, collaborates with UGA Costa Rica 44 University of Georgia Costa Rica as the water quality research program intern supervisor. In order to measure water quality in the area, water quality interns Marley Connor (2013–2014), Kelli Williams (2014), Steven Stran (2015), and Jade Woll (2015) have sifted through water samples from over 15 different sites at upper, middle and lower elevations in the three primary watersheds of the BBC: the Aranjuez, Guacimal, and Lagartos Rivers. To date, over 10 different orders of macroinvertebrates have been found in the samples. Macroinvertebrates include insects, crustaceans, molluscs, arachnids, and amelids. They live in water for all or part of their lives so their survival depends on water quality and quantity. They play a critical role in the food chain and are often sensitive to changes in water quality. Thus, they are used as indicators of water quality. This long-term research project has several objectives. One goal is to establish baseline data for each sampling site to provide a benchmark of the current health of the stream. A biotic index for each site is being developed, which is then used to measure water quality on a scale based on the types and abundance of macro invertebrates collected. Sensitivity to pollution is used as an indicator of water quality. Another goal of this study is to establish a clear and repeatable methodology for sampling so that UGA Costa Rica may continue to study water quality and assess any changes over time. Data collected is presented to local organizations, watershed man