For the last five years, the Water Watch program of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) has monitored the water quality of the inlets of Lake Pontchartrain in a manner promoting student environmental education and public awareness. Currently, twenty-seven junior high and
high schools regularly collect samples from nearby water bodies throughout the school year. During the 1998–99 school year, students collected and analyzed over 400 samples. The students analyze these samples and report the results to LPBF. The parameters investigated include dissolved
oxygen (DO), general and fecal coliform, pH, nutrient levels, and environmental conditions. Upon evaluating the data, it was determined that most of the results are chemical and biological indicators of the general health of the watershed. The results can also help identify potential “hot
spots” of poor water quality. Also, due to the geographic distribution of the schools, spatial trends in water quality within the basin can be compared. Because the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies lack adequate funding for widespread professional monitoring,
student data is especially helpful in focusing resources on the “hot spots”. Student monitoring of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin provides a “real world” educational opportunity which can be a link in the detection and correction of poor water quality conditions while
providing education and public awareness of these issues.
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