Creek Connections Uses Grant to Purchase New Stream-Testing Kits

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has awarded Allegheny College a grant of $1,500 in support of its Creek Connections program for pH test kits to continue measuring water quality in local watersheds.

K-12 students involved with Creek Connections use the pH kits to test how acidic or basic the water is as part of their overall study of the health of local western Pennsylvania streams. The health of western Pennsylvania creeks has been negatively affected by abandoned mine drainage waters that are sometimes acidic. Meters that students were using were at times difficult to use, read and maintain.

“With this grant, we were able to purchase pH test kits for our participating teachers and students to use this year and compare data collected with the pH meters we have been using in the past,” said Wendy Kedzierski, project director of Creek Connections.

“The pH meters can be tricky to maintain and we frequently had problems with them not working. We hope the data collected this year will show that the new kit gives reliable data, and we can make the switch to just using the new kits in the future,” Kedzierski said.

“We believe teachers and students prefer using the kit as there is more to it than just reading the numbers on the screen of the meter. … Ultimately the switch to the new kit will also save us money. The kit itself should never need to be replaced,” she said. “Overall, the pH kits provide a better experience for the students and their teachers and more reliable, accurate data to determine the health of the creeks.”

Through Creek Connections, Allegheny College forges partnerships with regional K-12 schools to turn waterways in northwest Pennsylvania, western Ohio, western Michigan and the Pittsburgh area into outdoor environmental laboratories. Emphasizing a hands-on, inquiry-based investigation of local waterways, this project annually involves over 40 different secondary schools and the classes of 50 teachers.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy grant program provides assistance to the region’s watershed groups. Financial support for these projects was provided by the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, which is dedicated to the economic, physical and social health of the communities served by Dominion Energy companies.

Since 2005, the conservancy and the Dominion Foundation have collaborated to help enhance water quality and watershed initiatives through this grant program, which has awarded $343,475 to more than 115 organizations. “The Mini Grant Program offers invaluable funding for smaller volunteer-based organizations and helps them to administer and complete a variety of different projects – like tree plantings and water monitoring – that are important to sustaining and enhancing local watersheds,” said Don Houser, Dominion’s state policy advisor.