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Joshua Thomas
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara with Fort Plain and Canajoharie student volunteers, who, last week participated in the local Environmental Study Program.

Joshua Thomas
Student-created results of the week-long water quality study.

Joshua Thomas
Student-created results of the week-long water quality study.

Joshua Thomas
Julia Stockwell views macro invertebrates following Friday's culminating presentation at Diefendorf Hall.


Students reveal water quality results

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Updated: 10:01 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- On Friday afternoon, community members and officials gathered for a presentation by local students, who, last week volunteered their time to test bodies of water in Fort Plain and Canajoharie as part of the Schoharie River Center's Environmental Study Program.

Director John McKeeby said of the high-school-age volunteers, "this community of kids has been fantastic. It's been a very nice group, and they've worked very hard and have created some tremendous research here."

"They've been motivated and eager to try new things," said McKeeby, who noted that the Friends of Fort Plain (who provided their Diefendorf Hall, 47 Main St. location as the week's headquarters), have been great partners, as have the Canajoharie and Fort Plain Central School Districts, which have been involved in the planning since March.

Water and macro invertebrate samples were taken from numerous locations in both the Otsquago and Canajoharie creeks last Tuesday and Wednesday, with the students analyzing the water and lifeforms found to determine water quality.

"All the sites show that the water quality of the two streams is generally pretty good," said McKeeby, continuing, "Canajoharie Creek, which has not been so damaged by the recent flooding, had a greater diversity of insects, and based on those indicators, may be seen as being a little healthier at those sites we tested."

He explained that the results were indicative specifically of the quality at the tested sites, not the entire creek, as water quality could differ greatly just a few miles up or down a stream.

McKeeby continued, "The closer you get to the Fort Plain village, where there's much more channel work that's been done, the biological diversity of the insects was less. That's an indicator, usually, of a stress system, or low water quality."

Those results, he said, were expected.

The program's goal was mostly to teach participants "the process of how you do water quality monitoring," including imparting information about the impacts of flooding and remediation on habitat.

"The benefit of the week was being able to engage youth who have not really developed a passion and motivation to study their natural waters. We're thinking this is going to be a program that will continue throughout the year and we're hoping to engage other local youth in the process."

While the Environmental Study Program has been ongoing at the Schoharie River Center in Burtonville for about ten years, this was their first attempt at branching out into these communities.

This week, a group of southern Schoharie County youth evaluated water conditions in the Mine Kill State Park, while others will spend the next two weeks in Otsego Lake, the following two weeks in Burtonville and two weeks in Schenectady.

At that point, McKeeby said more activities will be scheduled locally, which will likely involve hiking and running water. The group is hoping to facilitate monthly meetings locally, possibly on weekends, which they plan to advertise with hopes of signing up interested individuals.

Joshua Thomas - Environmental Study Program Director John McKeeby (right) stands by as students view and discuss the results of their study Friday.


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