Citizen Scientist Water Samples Show Quality OK

Nearly 500 water samples taken at the same time across the Windsor-Essex region have been analyzed.

August 17, 2017 the so-called "citizen scientists" gathered samples, used GPS to indicate where they came from and brought them to the University of Windsor for analysis.

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University of Windsor Doctoral Student Subbarao Chaganti, Citizen Scientist water sampling project co-ordinator, with map of sample location, May 16, 2018 (by AM800's Peter Langille)

It was part of a project to expand on the understanding of the water quality of the lakes and other waterways.

Dr. Daniel Heath initiated and led the project.

He says the results showed much of what they expected.

"We did not find any awful surprises.  So I think there are things we have to do to improve the water quality.  In terms of safety we're not finding a lot of harmful pathogens, you know the algal blooms are there we know about them and you can see them so they're not perhaps as scary as the microbes which you can't see"

Dr. Heath says the snapshot of the region's water quality has scientific value.

"The power of what we did where we had citizen scientists spread out and take samples is we see patterns, so we can see if there's a hot spot.  Now we know we go back and target that to see if that hot spot for e-coli stays that way for seasons"

He says the project has been considered a success.

One thing they discovered is that a lot of the e-coli found in the water is the result of Canada Goose poop.

Dr. Heath points out the geese don't generally carry the kinds of diseases dangerous to humans, but it does impact testing that leads to beach closures.

The other surprising fact was that Lake Erie water proved generally cleaner than from Lake St. Clair.

Federal funding of over $10,000 allowed the mass experiment to take place.